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Study: Elderly Women can increase strength but still risk falls
Date:10/23/2008

with falls," says LaRoche. It seems that the key to muscle power in the elderly is to maintain it over the lifespan rather than try to develop it later in life, he says.

Acknowledging that the type or frequency (six sets, three times per week) of his training protocol may have affected the older group's ability to make gains in power, LaRoche is continuing to research older women's capacity to develop muscle power. As baby boomers age, doubling the over-65 population by 2030, research that supports fall prevention and independent living is a growth area. "I tell my students, 'there's room for you in this field,'" says LaRoche.

Of those 40 percent of elderly people who will fall, research has shown that 20 to 30 percent suffer injuries that reduce mobility, independence and longevity. Health care cost of a fall injury totals nearly $20,000, and following a hip fracture, life expectancy is just two years.

LaRoche's own interest in fall prevention in the elderly arose after helping his parents and sister care for his completely sedentary grandmother, helping her stay in her own home until she died at age 93. She broke both hips, lost six inches of height, and had osteoporosis so severe that a caregiver accidently crushed several of her ribs just helping her out of a chair.

"There's a gap between life expectancy and quality of life in older age," LaRoche says. "We can improve that a lot with physical activity."


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Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert  

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