New Guidelines Released on Fall Prevention in the Elderly

Recommended interventions include exercise, environmental adaptations, reduction in medication

TUESDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatric Society have issued new guidelines on the prevention of falls in older persons; a summary has been published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Rose Anne M. Kenny, M.D., from St. James Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues on the guideline panel conducted a systematic review of literature published between May 2001 and April 2008 pertaining to fall prevention interventions. They also assessed randomized controlled trials published between April 2008 and July 2009 and searched numerous related databases.

The investigators recommend multifactorial risk assessment for older people who have a history of falls or had simply reported gait or balance problems, but not for those who fell once without reporting or demonstrating unsteadiness. Interventions can include exercises, such as tai chi, for balance, gait, and strength training; environmental adaptations to reduce risk factors in the home; cataract surgery where needed; medication reduction; assessment for postural hypotension; management of heart rate and rhythm abnormalities; and Vitamin D supplementation.

"Falls are not only associated with morbidity and mortality in the older population, but are also linked to poorer overall functioning and early admission to long-term care facilities," the authors write. "Reducing fall risk in older individuals is therefore an important public health objective."

Several panel members disclosed financial relationships with the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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