Falls not a normal part of aging

Sept. 4, 2012 at 1:26 AM
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EXETER, England, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Guidance in Britain advises an intensive exercise program for the elderly at risk of falling including strength training, balance and tai chi, researchers say.

The new guidance was compiled by a British team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, and Agile, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's professional network for physiotherapists working with older people.

The program should involve three sessions a week for three months or twice weekly sessions for six months, the guidance said.

"We're saying that it really needs to be 50 hours -- roughly twice a week for six months," one of the co-authors of the guidance, Dr. Vicki Goodwin of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and University of Exeter, told The Daily Telegraph.

However, Goodwin said there are things elderly people can do for themselves to improve their balance and prevent falls including:

-- Stay active, in particular strength and balance training.

-- Get eyes checked because vision can affect balance.

-- Painful feet and poor fitting shoes can affect balance.

-- Check home for potential hazards e.g. loose fitting rugs and poor lighting. Install hand rails in bathrooms.

-- Manage medicines, as some contribute to being dizzy.

-- Boost bone health with exercise, a balanced diet and vitamin D.

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