Falling can be fatal for older Americans - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/29/09

Falling can be fatal for older Americans

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By Kristin Beerman | email

Edited by Jon Bush | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Falling is dangerous and sometimes even deadly for older Americans.  A new study says seniors, 70 and older, who suffer from chronic bone and joint pain face an increased risk of falling.  Dr. Suzanne Leveille and colleagues from University of Massachusetts Boston, examined nearly 800 older adults who were still living independently, and they asked them all, if they were ever to fall, to record their pain level at the time when they lost their balance.  After more than a thousand falls were recorded in the next year and a half, researchers decided they could see the connection, that pain is a big risk reason why seniors fall.

"We found that people that had multi site pain were particularly at risk, they had a 50% increased likelihood of falling over a period of 18 months compared to their peers who had no pain," said Dr. Suzanne Leveille.

The study is featured this week in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.  It's the first study looking at how pain is related to an older person's tendency to fall.  Researchers say what we can learn from this is and older folks who complain about pain should not just live with it, but seek some sort of pain management.  Because getting rid of the pain of aching joints may also decrease their risk of falling and increase their chance of living actively and independently much longer.

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