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Fall prevention strategies lower hospitalizations among older adults: study

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Binghamton, NY — At-risk older adults are less likely to be hospitalized for fall-related injuries if they have a “fall plan of care,” according to recent research published by the Gerontological Society of America.

Researchers reviewed more than 12,000 cases of adults 65 or older who had visited their primary care physician between Sept. 11, 2012, and Oct. 30, 2015. The seniors were placed into three groups: at-risk with no fall plan of care, at-risk with a plan and not at risk.

Results showed that seniors who were at-risk and had a fall plan of care were 0.6 times less likely to be hospitalized as a result of a fall than those who didn’t have a plan.

“Fall prevention activities such as raising awareness about fall risk, identifying individual risk for fall, discussing fall risk prevention strategies and providing referrals to fall risk reduction programs in the community for older adults were shown to reduce fall-related hospitalizations,” Yvonne Johnston, study author and research associate professor at Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, said in a Sept. 24 press release.

In 2015, medical costs for fall-related injuries among older adults totaled more than $50 billion, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response, the agency implemented its Stopping Elderly Accidents Deaths and Injuries initiative. The program includes screening for fall risk, assessing risk factors and prescribing evidence-based interventions to reduce risks.

As a result of the interventions, Johnston said older adults:

  • Become more conscious of conditions that contribute to falls.
  • Take steps to modify home environments, reducing their risk.
  • Participate in prevention programs.
  • Take part in physical activities to improve strength and balance.

“These steps, what we called development of a fall plan of care,” Johnston said, “likely contributed to the observed lower rates of fall-related hospitalizations for older adults who were identified as being at risk for fall.”

The study results were published online Sept. 20 in GSA’s journal The Gerontologist.

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