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Phyllis Diller's Fall Led To Worsened Health: Why Are They So Dangerous For The Elderly?

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The comedian and actress Phyllis Diller has died at age 95, according to news reports.

She died at her home in Los Angeles, USA Today reported. She had been under hospice care.

TMZ reported that her health had been declining since suffering a fall that resulted in an injured hip and wrist.

While there is no word on whether this fall factored into her death, falls among the elderly are known to be especially dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that falls are the No. 1 cause of death from injury among people ages 65 and older. Plus, for 20 to 30 percent of seniors, a fall results in a serious injury like head trauma, laceration or hip fracture -- all of which can raise the risk of premature death.

Nonfatal falls are also more common among the elderly. In the general population, falls occur in 43 out of every 1,000 people. But with people ages 75 and older, falls are more common, occurring in 115 people for every 1,000 people.

In 2001, a study in the American Journal of Managed Care showed that the frequency of falls among Medicare users is the "univariate predictor" of death, hospitalization, placement in a nursing home or placement in a hospital.

Plus, falls in the elderly could be a sign of worsened health in the first place, according to a 2000 article in the journal American Family Physician. And in addition to causing injury, these falls could have negative affects on daily functioning. The American Family Physician article explains why:

Compared with elderly persons who do not fall, those who fall experience greater functional decline in activities of daily living (ADLs) and in physical and social activities, and they are at greater risk for subsequent institutionalization.

To prevent falls among the elderly, the CDC recommends doing regular exercise (to build strength in the legs), paying attention to medication side effects (some may cause feelings of dizziness or tiredness), wearing glasses if you need them (so you can see properly and get around without falling), and keeping a tidy home (so you don't trip over miscellaneous items).

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