Wed, Feb 08, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Doctors offer advice to elderly in bid to prevent fall injuries

By Wu Liang-i and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

In response to a string of reports about falls among elderly people, doctors spoke about the causes of such incidents and provided advice for limiting their occurrence.

Such falls are generally caused by cerebral atrophy, doctors said, advising the elderly to walk for 30 minutes to one hour per day to strengthen leg muscles.

Strengthening the muscles lowers the chances of a fall and reduces pain if it happens, they added.

Coordination and balance are affected by the aging process, Tri-Service General Hospital deputy director Pan Ju-yu (潘如瑜) said, adding that elderly people are often unable to react to falls and are therefore likely to hit the ground or other objects with great force, causing serious injury.

About 90 percent of elderly people who slip and fall break bones, Taipei Veterans General Hospital Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology director Peng Li-ning (彭莉甯) said.

Such falls can often end up with patients bedridden and can even cause death, Peng said, adding that among those aged 85 or older who break bones, 25 percent die within a year.

Citing the use of padded pants by elderly people in the US and some other countries as an example, Pan said measures can be taken to reduce the impact of a fall.

Aside from walking, other exercises can strengthen leg muscles, such as tai chi or other light forms of activity, he said.

Pan advised younger people to take action to protect their bones to reduce the risk of bone damage when they get older.

Elderly women are particularly at risk of osteoporosis as their bone density reduces by 30 percent post-menopause, he said, adding this could be offset through exercise and consumption of calcium in younger years.

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