July 22, 2009
Thank you for bringing attention to the issue of safety in the home for seniors in your July 17 article "Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably." The article correctly notes that falls are the leading cause of injury in the home for older adults. However, falls are not an inevitable part of aging.
Older adults who participate in exercise programs that improve balance and mobility can reduce their risk of falls.1 Muscle strengthening and balance retraining programs, individually prescribed at home by a health care professional, such as a physical therapist, and Tai Chi programs are beneficial in helping older adults achieve and maintain mobility. While modifications to the home are important, home-based exercise programs can effectively reduce the risk of falls in older adults who wish to remain independent and safe in their homes.
John O. Barr, PT, PhD
Section on Geriatrics, American Physical Therapy Association
1 Powers, CM, Farrokhi, S, Moreno J. Can exercise reduce the incidence of falls in the elderly, and, if so, what form of exercise is most effective? Phys Ther. 2002;11:1124-1130.