Unusual fall prevention tool: glass of wine

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Although nursing home medical directors might want to do a little research before prescribing a glass of wine at every meal, there is some evidence that seniors who imbibe would suffer fewer falls.

Red wine has long been touted for its age-fighting antioxidant powers, and researchers at Duquesne University might have figured out a new reason for it.

For eight weeks, scientists, led by Assistant Professor of Pharmacology Jane E. Cavanaugh, Ph.D., fed old and young mice a diet rich in resveratrol, the antioxidant compound found in red wine, dark-skinned fruit, nuts and blueberries. Over that time, they observed how many missteps the mice made when traversing a balance beam made of steel mesh.

At the start of the study, the elderly mice struggled with missteps and frequently fell off the beam, while the younger mice did not. As the study went on, though, the old mice grew steadier on their feet.

“[Resveratrol] could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population,” Cavanaugh said, which in turn could increase a senior's quality of life and decrease the risk of hospitalization from a fall.