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Leonard Cohen's Death: What Causes Falls in the Elderly?

The death of legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has brought up a timeless question about what causes falls in the elderly. It’s believed that Cohen died after he fell in the night, LiveScience reports.

No one will ever know whether Cohen’s death could have been prevented, but it is well known that certain underlying conditions can contribute to falls, and that falls are among the leading cause of injury and death in senior citizens.

Each year, 2.8 million older adults are treated in U.S. emergency rooms due to falls; more than 800,000 of them are hospitalized as a result. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries and account for $31 billion in direct medical costs annually. On the bright side, these injuries can be thwarted with simple balance and coordination exercises and strength training, along with optimizing your vitamin D levels.

While many seniors benefit from strenuous activities such as high-intensity regimens and strength training, there are options even for people who are frail or confined to a wheelchair. Plus, it’s never too late to start — my own mother didn’t begin exercising until she was 74 years old.

You can begin with seated exercises such as toe taps on a plastic cup, leg lifts, seated marching in place and arm reaches. Next, you can “graduate” to standing exercises such as side leg raises as well as special strength training designed just for senior adults. Yoga and resistance training using elastic bands and/or free weights or weight machines are also good.