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The Fall in Older Adults: Physical and Cognitive Problems

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]

Author(s):

Bernard Demanze Laurence and Lacour Michel   Pages 185 - 200 ( 16 )

Abstract:


Background: The aging of posture and balance function alters the quality of life in older people and causes serious problems in terms of public health and socio-economic costs for our modern societies.

Method: This article reviews the various causes of imbalance and dizziness in the elderly, and considers how to prevent falls, and how to rehabilitate a faller subject in order to regain a good quality of life. Two effective ways of intervention are discussed, emphasizing the crucial role of physical activity and cognitive stimulation, classic or using the latest technical advances in virtual reality and video games.

Results: Fall in the elderly result from aging mechanisms acting on both the sensorimotor and cognitive spheres. The structural and functional integrity of the peripheral sensory receptors and the musculoskeletal system deteriorate with age. The brain ages and the executive functions, memory, learning, cortical processing of information, sharing of attentional resources and concentration, are modified in the elderly. Psychological affective factors such as depression, anxiety and stress contribute also to speed up the sensorimotor and cognitive decline. The rehabilitation of the postural balance in the elderly must take into account all of these components.

Conclusion: The aging of the population and the increased of lifespan are a challenge for our modern societies regarding the major health and socio-economic questions they raise. The fall in the elderly being one of the dramatic consequences of the aging equilibration function, it is therefore imperative to develop rehabilitation procedures of balance.

Keywords:

Postural control, sensorimotor aging, cognitive aging, psychological affective factors, fall, fall prevention.

Affiliation:

UMR 7260 Aix-Marseille Université, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Intégrative et Adaptatice, Fédération de recherché 3C, 3 place Victor Hugo Case 32, site Saint- Charles 13331 Marseille CEDEX 3, UMR 7260 Aix-Marseille Université, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Intégrative et Adaptatice, Fédération de recherché 3C, 3 place Victor Hugo Case 32, site Saint- Charles 13331 Marseille CEDEX 3

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