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More older adults are falling every year, study shows

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Falls among people 65 and older have increased annually in recent years, and it’s unclear why, according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

Looking at Medicare claims submitted from 2016 to 2019, the researchers found an average 1.5% rise in falls every year. Although the researchers couldn’t pinpoint why falls are increasing, they speculate that a more active adult population might be one factor. They also say the study may have captured population changes in health and function, or in prescribing patterns for medications that are associated with increased falls.

“It could be that (prevention) efforts aren’t working – or that they are, by mitigating even worse potential injury risk in the population,” said researcher Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor in the U-M School of Nursing. “Either way, more investment in prevention, such as education and funding for fall education and prevention programs, would help.”

 

Each year, falls affect 4.5 million older adults nationwide, U-M states. Experts say older adults can help avoid falls by wearing shoes indoors instead of socks/slippers or going barefoot. Other tips for helping older adults stay safe at home:

  • Make sure home lighting is bright.
  • Install grab bars near toilets and showers.
  • Fix broken or uneven steps in and around the home, as well as any cracks in walkways.
  • Secure area rugs to the floor or remove them altogether.

The study was published online in JAMA Network Open.

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