In the U.S alone, more than 33, 000 deaths of seniors happen every year as a result of accidental falls. Estimates imply that nursing homes will see anywhere between 100-200 falls per year. Fractures typically limit everyday activities and increased dependency. For instance, senior adults that experience hip fractures, half of them might require some assistance with daily activities while 20-30 percent of those adults will die within a year.
The U.S Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has taken steps to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities per year in assisted living facilities by issuing new recommendations.
According to CBS News, some of the recommendations include:
Adults who are 65 years and above are at an increased risk of falling and so they should exercise to prevent falls. According to the panel of experts that issued this recommendation, plenty of studies have been conducted and there is enough evidence to show that exercising on a regular basis does help to prevent falls in senior adults.
The type of exercise that seniors should engage in should be tailored to the individual’s specific needs by a healthcare provider.
For senior adults who are frail or are not able to walk on their own, it’s better to have them undergo physical therapy.
2. Stopping the use of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements
According to USPSTF, postmenopausal women should not be given calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporotic fractures. This recommendation came as a result of a previous update in 2013 that recommended the use of certain amounts of vitamin D with or without calcium to prevent fractures.
After conducting sufficient scientific research, the Task Force found that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that vitamin D and calcium, combined or not, prevents fractures in men or postmenopausal women.
There have previously been differing opinions about the use of Vitamin D and Calcium to prevent fractures. While some recommend that seniors at risk of falling should take 1,000 mg of calcium and doses no greater than 400 IU of vitamin D, others refute the claim that these supplements are necessary at all.
Additionally, further research shows that consistently taking Vitamin D and calcium supplements increases the risk of developing kidney stones.
It’s recommended that instead of taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements, you should eat foods rich in the nutrients. You should also incorporate daily activities where you can get as much sunlight as possible.
If you have a loved one that lives in an assisted living facility and you are concerned about their risk of falling and developing a fracture, it’s important to talk to a doctor and the person in charge of the facility about your concerns. Interventions may differ from one community to another. However, at the end of the day, it’s all about assessing the risk and finding a way to help senior adults build up their strength and balance to prevent falls.
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