Thursday, July 07, 2005

Falls in the Elderly

Cognitive factors may increase the probability of falls in the elderly. As well, falls are a preventable cause of head and brain trauma. Therefore, the topic is always of concern to clinical neuroscientists who work with older individuals.

Available in full-text format, including a fact sheet for patients:

Shobha S. Rao. Prevention of Falls in Older Patients. American Family Physician 2005; 72: 81-8 & 93-4.

University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, Texas


Falls are one of the most common geriatric syndromes threatening the independence of older persons. Between 30 and 40 percent of community-dwelling adults older than 65 years fall each year, and the rates are higher for nursing home residents. Falls are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and nursing home placement. Most falls have multiple causes. Risk factors for falls include muscle weakness, a history of falls, use of four or more prescription medications, use of an assistive device, arthritis, depression, age older than 80 years, and impairments in gait, balance, cognition, vision, and activities of daily living. Physicians caring for older patients should ask about any falls that have occurred in the past year. Assessment should include evaluating the circumstances of the fall and a complete history and physical examination, looking for potential risk factors. The most effective fall prevention strategies are multifactorial interventions targeting identified risk factors, exercises for muscle strengthening combined with balance training, and withdrawal of psychotropic medication. Home hazard assessment and modification by a health professional also is helpful.

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Anthony H. Risser | | |

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