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A new study revealed that despite prevention efforts, falls in older adults have increased by about 1.5% annually, with wide variations in incidence based on geography. And this data does not even account for a greater prevalence of falls and related injuries in older people due to COVID-19-related restrictions, which increased sedentary behavior and physical inactivity.
“It could be that efforts aren’t working — or that they are, by mitigating even worse potential injury risk in the population,” said Geoffrey Hoffman, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and co-author of the research letter, which appears in JAMA Network Open. “Either way, more investment in prevention, such as education and funding for fall education and prevention programs would help.”
For this study, researchers analyzed claims from 2016-2019 for adults 65 and older. The 1.5% average annual increase translates to an additional 106,000 new fall injuries or an estimated $1 billion in new fall injury spending over the study period.
However, it’s not clear why falls are increasing, according to Hoffman. Changes in health and function, medication prescribing patterns, or even a more active older population could all contribute to increased falls. The findings could also reflect other changes in treatment and care or how fall injuries are administratively coded.
Photo by Neil Moralee via Flickr.
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The National Poll on Healthy Aging uncovered some worrying indicators: 25% of older adults experienced a fall between the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and January 2021, when the poll was conducted. Forty percent of those who experienced a fall had more than one fall during this period. The CDC cites falls as the leading cause of injury and death among those 65 and older. We know that reduced physical conditioning and fear of falling may increase future fall risk and reduce independence. Continue reading
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Health reporters provided rich context – and a dose of skepticism – around Apple’s introduction of the Apple Watch Series 4, which included an electrocardiogram (ECG) app and fall detection capabilities.
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Anyone who has helped an ailing loved one knows that the job of a caregiver is not easy. When cognitive decline is part of the mix, the job becomes even more challenging.
Researchers and occupational therapy students at the University of Buffalo (UB) are developing a model to help ease some of the burdens on those caring for frail elders with dementia. They are partnering with regional PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) programs to meet the unique needs of older caregiving spouses. Continue reading