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Senior Citizen's Guide to Chicago

Falls Prevention: A Crisis in Need of Solutions

There was a lot of attention and panic over the 2012/2013 flu epidemic. To be sure, it was serious and cause for concern. But there’s another epidemic happening, this one affecting senior citizens that is also serious but receives far less attention – falls.  They happen far more often than you might think. One out of three seniors falls each year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And for someone over age 65 a fall can be deadly. In fact, falls are the number one cause of death from injury among this age group.  Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal injuries among seniors treated in our nation’s emergency rooms. For both deaths and injuries, the rates of the top nine leading causes combined do not even come close to those for falls. So there’s a very good chance that someone you know– a parent, grandparent – has fallen, at least once. Oftentimes, a senior will fall several times and his/her caregiver won’t know about it until that senior winds up in the hospital.

Seniors are more prone to falls because with age we all naturally lose muscle strength, balance and coordination, which is known as sarcopenia. But other changes in the body can also contribute to falls – weaker sight, hearing and reflexes for example. Some medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can affect balance, and certain medications sometimes can cause dizziness. Even a minor fall can be particularly treacherous for a senior, especially one who is frail and who may have brittle bones symptomatic of osteoporosis.

The good news is there are preventive measures that can be taken to help reduce seniors’ risk of falling. Ask just about any physician, physical therapist or geriatric specialist and they will tell you that exercise is a necessary and effective way to help maintain strength and coordination, even into old age. And one doesn’t have to be a senior Olympian to reap the benefits. Low-impact cardio, yoga, and training with free-weights and weight machines can all be performed by seniors to improve balance, flexibility and strength.

In addition, Tai Chi and the Otago Exercise Program (OEP), two of the most highly-recommended exercise programs in the world are ideal for stretching routines and other movements to improve balance. Tai Chi is rooted in Chinese culture and OEP was designed by specialists at Otago University in New Zealand. A new option for seniors, and boomers for that matter, incorporates both of these programs.

The iStand Falls Prevention® Exercise Program from HoliVision, Inc., is a new mobile app and a DVD which provides easy and safe exercise programs designed to minimize the risk of falls. The iStand program can be used in a group setting or in the privacy of one’s home. Even seniors who are frail can benefit from the stretching and movements as long as they have a caretaker with them. iStand is the first and only mobile app for seniors that includes falls prevention exercises, and represents a solution that is easily accessible to millions of seniors who are risk for falls and who can benefit from this type of program.

A telehealth component of the iStand mobile app and DVD enables seniors to use the latest technologies to better interact with their health care providers, physical therapists and other physicians to avoid falls as well as to more effectively monitor their overall health and progress. Currently the American Geriatrics Society, Medicare and other relevant groups recommend that all seniors be asked about falls by their physician at least once a year. iStand exceeds these recommendations by providing the opportunity for an on-going record and assessment along with the exercises. In addition, the program’s website provides essential information about all things involving falls. It hosts a discussion forum where seniors can connect with each other and their physical therapist or other healthcare professionals, and discuss their exercise routines as well as report any falls.

Experts predict this epidemic of falls to continue as our senior population swells in the coming years. The time is now for taking action nationwide to ensure that our seniors, their families and caregivers are aware of effective, safe and easy exercise and strengthening programs that are available. 

Visit iStand Falls Prevention Exercise Program by HoliVision, Inc. online profile.


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