A clinical review of dozens of studies leads some scientists to say that the best method to reduce falls among the elderly, and assist them in remaining in independent living areas, may be exercise.
Falls are often triggered by poor balance and eyesight, as well as certain adverse effects of medications, and may
lead to decreased mobility and social interactions.
The researchers noted that 30 percent of the elderly who do not reside in assisted living facilities sustain a fall each year, and some of those require hospitalization.
They found that in the 111 studies Dr Barbara Gillespie and her team reviewed, the majority of elderly patients were able to reduce the rate and severity of falls by participating in Tai Chi or other exercise programs.
These initiatives "for reducing falls focus on balance, strength and flexibility, and challenge the older adults to improve in all of these components," said Bonita Lynn Beattie, vice president for injury prevention at the Center for Healthy Aging.
Other treatments, such as vitamin D supplementation and cataract surgery, may be beneficial only in substantially smaller groups of people, the researchers said.