Preventing Falls

Preventing Falls

We want a society where older adults can live to their full potential. While falls are a threat to the health and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient, the opportunity to reduce falls among older adults has never been better. Today, there are proven interventions that can reduce falls and help older adults live better, and longer.

In 2010, the overall rate of nonfatal fall injury episodes for which a health-care professional was contacted was 43 per 1,000 population. Persons aged ≥ 75 years had the highest rate (115).

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling.  They can:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision.  Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting in their homes.

To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and treated for osteoporosis.

SOURCE:  http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Falls/adultfalls.html

References

  1. Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK. Gait variability and fall risk in community–living older adults: a 1–year prospective study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82(8):1050–6.
  2. Hornbrook MC, Stevens VJ, Wingfield DJ, Hollis JF, Greenlick MR, Ory MG. Preventing falls among community–dwelling older persons: results from a randomized trial. The Gerontologist 1994:34(1):16–23.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)   [online].   Accessed November 30, 2010.
  4. Stevens JA.  Fatalities and injuries from falls among older adults – United States, 1993–2003 and 2001–2005. MMWR 2006a;55(45).
  5. Stevens JA, Corso PS, Finkelstein EA, Miller TR. The costs of fatal and nonfatal falls among older adults. Injury Prevention 2006b;12:290–5.
  6. Alexander BH, Rivara FP, Wolf ME. The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall–related injuries in older adults. American Journal of Public Health 1992;82(7):1020–3.
  7. Sterling DA, O'Connor JA, Bonadies J. Geriatric falls: injury severity is high and disproportionate to mechanism. Journal of Trauma–Injury, Infection and Critical Care 2001;50(1):116–9.
  8. Jager TE, Weiss HB, Coben JH, Pepe PE. Traumatic brain injuries evaluated in U.S. emergency departments, 1992–1994. Academic Emergency Medicine 2000&359;7(2):134–40.
  9. Bell AJ, Talbot-Stern JK, Hennessy A. Characteristics and outcomes of older patients presenting to the emergency department after a fall: a retrospective analysis. Medical Journal of Australia 2000;173(4):176–7.
  10. Scott JC. Osteoporosis and hip fractures. Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America 1990; 16(3): 717–40.
  11. Vellas BJ, Wayne SJ, Romero LJ, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ. Fear of falling and restriction of mobility in elderly fallers. Age and Ageing 1997;26:189–193.
  12. Stevens JA, Dellinger AM. Motor vehicle and fall related deaths among older Americans 1990–98: sex, race, and ethnic disparities. Injury Prevention 2002;8:272–5.
  13. Donald IP, Bulpitt CJ. The prognosis of falls in elderly people living at home. Age and Ageing 1999;28:121–5.
  14. Stevens JA, Sogolow ED. Gender differences for non-fatal unintentional fall related injuries among older adults. Injury Prevention 2005b;11:115–9.
  15. National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), National Center for Health Statistics. Available at: www.cdc.gov/nchs/hdi.htm.  Assessed September 14, 2011.
  16. Stevens JA. Falls among older adults–risk factors and prevention strategies. NCOA Falls Free: Promoting a National Falls Prevention Action Plan. Research Review Papers. Washington &340;DC)&358; The National Council on the Aging; 2005a.

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