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Safety Alert: From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

ROSEMONT, Ill., March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It happens in an instant, standing one minute, on the ground the next. Just ask Vice President Joe Biden's mother. For 92 year old Catherine Eugenia "Jean" Biden and so many other senior citizens, guarding against taking a tumble is fast becoming a full time job. America's senior citizens are living longer and must now take added precautions to help prevent a fall and a subsequent fracture.

Mrs. Biden is recovering from a broken hip after falling at her home in Delaware. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has some important information and tips for preventing falls and hip fractures in America's elderly population.

  • Each year in the United States more than 11 million senior citizens fall--that's one out of every three people older than 65 years of age which makes it the leading cause of injuries to our senior population.
  • In 2006, 368,000 people were diagnosed for hip fractures.
  • Falls can occur anytime, anyplace and to anyone while doing simple everyday activities like climbing stairs or getting out of a bathtub.
  • The number of falls and the severity of injury increase with age.

Some Medical Risk Factors associated with falls are:

  • Impaired musculoskeletal function, gait abnormality and osteoporosis.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), blood pressure fluctuation.
  • Depression, Alzheimer's disease and senility.
  • Arthritis, hip weakness or imbalance.
  • Neurologic conditions, stroke, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis.
  • Urinary and bladder dysfunction.
  • Vision or hearing loss.
  • Cancer that affects bones.

Some Safety Tips for preventing a fall are:

  • Get an annual physical and eye examination, particularly an evaluation of cardiac and blood pressure problems.
  • Maintain a diet with adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D.
  • Do not smoke and avoid excessive use of alcohol.
  • Participate in an exercise program for agility, strength, balance and coordination.
  • Eliminate all tripping hazards in your home and install grab bars, handrails and other safety devices
  • Wear properly- fitting shoes with nonskid soles.
  • Never walk in your stocking feet.

Some tips to Keep Your Home Safe:

  • Place a lamp, telephone and flashlight near your bed.
  • Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of.
  • Arrange clothes in your closet so that they are easy-to-reach.
  • Install a night-light along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
  • Keep all areas of the house clutter free.
  • Arrange furniture so you have a clear pathway between rooms.
  • Install easy-access light switches at entrances to rooms so you won't have to walk into a darkened room in order to turn on the light. Glow-in-the-dark switches may be helpful.
  • Don't sit in a chair or on a sofa that is so low it is difficult to stand up.
  • Clean up immediately any liquids, grease, or food spilled on the floor.
  • Install grab bars on the bathroom walls.
  • Stabilize yourself on the toilet by using either a raised seat or a special toilet seat with armrests.
  • Use a sturdy, plastic seat in the bathtub if you cannot lower yourself to the floor of the tub or if you are unsteady.

For more information go to

SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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