Health

Preventing falls

Here’s important news for older Zoomers and the people who love them. For the first time since 2001, the American and British Geriatrics Societies have updated their guidelines for preventing falls in older people. The update includes two major changes: One recommends tai chi — the slow-motion Chinese exercise — as an effective way to prevent falls, while another suggests that doctors review medication use by all elderly patients, with an eye toward reducing use of those drugs that increase the risk of falling.. That would include antidepressants, sleep medications and drugs for anxiety

The earlier guidelines did not single out any particular exercise regimen and endorsed prescription reviews only for patients taking more than four medications.

The researchers say exercise is essential for any older person who can manage it. Tai chi gets the nod because several trials have suggested that it seems to help reduce the risk of falling, although it is possible that other forms of balance training work just as well.

These exercises also increase confidence and that’s important for fall prevention, Doctors say fear of falling can itself lead older people to cut back on activities and the less they do, the less they eventually are able to do.

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