We hear it all the time. Get mom an alarm device so she can get some help if she falls. But is this an over-reaction? Do you really need to wear an emergency alarm device all the time? What exactly is the likelihood that women will fall when they get older? A recent study gives the answer to this question and what can be done about it.
Researchers followed 78 elderly women and asked them to report on how often they fell. At the same time, the researchers measured the functional fitness of the women. What they discovered was really sobering for all of us as we get older. A full 32.4% of the women had suffered a fall. And, not surprisingly, the less functionally fit the women were, the more likely they were to fall. Here's how the authors of the study put it, "It is recommended that functional and resistance exercises are included in the preventive strategies for reducing risk factors for falls and its determinants in elderly women."
So should you get an alarm device?
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Here's how you can decide. Lie down on the floor and then get up without using any form of assistance (you'll want to have someone present in case you can't get up). Second, see if you can sit down on a dining chair and then stand up again at least 10 times in a minute without using your arms. Lastly, walk heel to toe in bare feet on carpet for at least 10 feet.
If you can do all of these things, I don't believe you have to worry about the alarm (unless you just want the peace of mind). However if you can't, I would recommend two things. First, definitely get the alarm device. Second, get into a physical therapy program for strength and balance training. And stay in the program until you can accomplish these goals.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Bette M, Nüsing RM, et al. Efficiency of tazobactam/piperacillin in lethal peritonitis is enhanced after preconditioning of rats with O3/O2-pneumoperitoneum. Shock. 2006 Jan;25(1):23-9.
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