You accidentally slip on a wet bathroom floor, trip on a loose throw rug, or lose your balance on the stairs. If you or an older person you know has fallen, you're not alone. Each year, more than 1.6 million older Americans go to the emergency room for fall-related injuries. Among older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury-related deaths, but falls are not an inevitable part of life, even as a person gets older.
Information about the risks of falling and what you can do to prevent falls has just been added to NIHSeniorHealth (www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov). This Web site, which was designed especially for older adults, is a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), which are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Falls can have devastating effects in older people,“ says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the NIA, which developed the content for the falls topic on NIHSeniorHealth. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the arm, hand, ankle or hip. Only half of older adults hospitalized for a broken hip return home or live on their own after the injury, which is why prevention is so important. Information about taking care of your health, reducing hazards at home, exercising and making other lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of falling is now easily accessible on NIHSeniorHealth.
Older Americans increasingly are turning to the Internet for health information. In fact, 66 percent of "wired" seniors surf for health and medical information when they go online. NIHSeniorHealth, which is based on the latest research on cognition and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information in a variety of formats, including large-print type sizes, open-captioned videos and even an audio version. Additional topics coming soon to the site include clinical trials, nutrition and skin cancer. The site links to MedlinePlus, NLM's premier, more detailed site for consumer health information.
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The NLM, the world's largest library of the health sciences, creates and sponsors Web-based health information resources for the public and professionals. Both are components of the NIH in Bethesda, Md.
The NIH – The Nation's Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.