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Fall prevention and some tools to help

Approximately 1/3 of people over age 65 fall at least once each year[1] sometimes resulting in substantial injury and even death. If that wasn’t bad enough, fear of falling can lead to loss of confidence, self-restricted activity, and subsequent functional loss.

Falling, of course, can be caused by multiple factors, some of which are not preventable. However, there are interventions that have been shown to help prevent falls and DCs are well positioned to recommend them to patients.
A comprehensive systematic review authored by Gillespie et al., and published in 2012, describes the evidence supporting several interventions aimed at preventing falls. The authors concluded that home safety evaluations, multifactorial assessment and intervention programs, and Tai Chi reduce falls or fall risk. If you are interested in the details of each program studied, I strongly encourage you to read the article (reference below).

Another great resource is the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC has generated materials for doctors and patients that both bring awareness to the dangers of and costs associated with falling, especially in older adults, and provide information on prevention. A downloadable compendium contains summaries of interventions that have been shown to reduce falls in clinical studies. The interventions are grouped into exercise-based, home modification, and multifaceted categories. The document can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/compendium.html

The CDC also has available printable brochures in English, Spanish, and Chinese on the topics of “Home fall prevention checklist” and “What you can do to prevent falls.” “What you can to do prevent falls” posters are also available on the website. These brochures and posters can help raise awareness for you, your staff, and your patients and also serve as conversation starters that can lead to an effective intervention that just might prevent someone from an injurious fall. I think this is one way we can influence public health – one patient, one conversation at a time.

Reference List

1. Gillespie LD, Robertson MC, Gillespie WJ, Sherrington C, Gates S, Clemson LM, Lamb SE: Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012, 9: CD007146.

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