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Volume 45 Number 8, 2008
   Pages 1153 — 1166

Abstract - Preventing falls among older adults: No "one size suits all" intervention strategy

Debra J. Rose, PhD

Center for Successful Aging and Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, California State University, Fullerton, CA

Abstract — Physical activity (exercise) serves primary, secondary, and tertiary roles in the prevention of falls among older adults. In its primary role, physical activity can prevent the onset of pathology and system impairments that lead to disability and increased risk for falls. Slowing the progression of disease and system impairments is its secondary role, while its tertiary role lies in the restoration of function to a level that allows for more autonomy in the performance of essential activities of daily living. Whether used as a stand-alone strategy or a core component of a multifactorial intervention approach, exercise constitutes an effective means by which to reduce fall risk and/or fall incidence rates. At low levels of risk, many exercise choices are available to older adults. As the level of risk increases, however, more tailored and progressive exercise programs that target the physical risk factors associated with falls are more effective in lowering fall risk. Adopting a multifactorial intervention approach with exercise as an integral component may also be necessary at the highest levels of risk. Although more labor intensive, multifactorial approaches, if carefully staged, should still be considered the most effective intervention approach for older adults identified at high risk for falls.

Key words: aging, community-based exercise, exercise, fall risk, falls, home-based exercise, multifactorial interventions, older adults, physical activity, rehabilitation.

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