1 in 2 older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease falls, study finds

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With falls causing millions of injuries in older adults each year, it is an increasingly important public health concern.

In a study from Drexel University and elsewhere, scientists found older adults living with dementia have twice the risk of falling and three times the risk of incurring serious fall-related injuries, like fractures, compared to those without dementia.

For older adults with dementia, even minor fall-related injuries can lead to hospitalization and nursing home admission.

The study has shed light on the many and varied fall-risk factors facing older adults in community-living environments.

In the study, the team examined a comprehensive set of potential fall-risk factors in older community-living adults 65 and older in the United States, both with and without dementia.

They found that nearly half (45.5%) of older adults with dementia had experienced one or more falls in 2016, compared to less than one-third (30.9%) of older adults without dementia.

Among older adults living with dementia, three characteristics stood out as strongly linked to a greater likelihood of falls: a history of falling the previous year; impaired vision; and living with others (versus alone).

For older people without dementia, financial hardship, a history of falling, fear of falling, poor lower extremity performance, depressive symptoms, and home disrepair were strongly linked to an increased risk of falls.

While the prior history of falling and vision impairment are well-known risk factors for falls among older adults in general; the researchers’ findings indicate that these were strong risk factors for falls among people living with dementia.

The study suggests that people living with dementia should be assessed for the presence of these characteristics.

If they’re present, the people should receive further assessment and treatment, including examining their feet and footwear, and assessing their environment and ability to carry out daily living activities, among other items.

The results of the study indicate the need to further investigate and design fall-prevention interventions, specifically for people living with dementia.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about why some older people less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, and findings of daily habit that may help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and Coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was conducted by Safiyyah Okoye et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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