1 in 2 older people with dementia suffers from falls

Credit: Unsplash+

Falls cause millions of injuries among older adults each year, and the risk is even higher among those living with dementia.

A new study from researchers in Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions has examined fall-risk factors among older adults in community-living environments, providing valuable insights for fall-risk screening and prevention strategies.

The Study and Its Findings

The study, led by Safiyyah Okoye, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Drexel, and Jennifer L. Wolff, Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

It examined potential fall-risk factors, including environmental ones, among older adults in the United States, both with and without dementia.

According to data from the 2015 and 2016 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), 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.

For older adults with dementia, a history of falling the previous year, impaired vision, and living with others were significantly associated with a higher likelihood of falls.

For those without dementia, financial hardship, a history of falling, fear of falling, poor lower extremity performance, depressive symptoms and home disrepair were strongly associated with increased risk of falls.

Implications of the Findings

The researchers suggest that people living with dementia should be assessed for a prior history of falling and vision impairment, known risk factors for falls.

If these are present, further assessments and treatments should be made, including examining the individual’s feet and footwear and assessing their environment and ability to carry out daily living activities.

Interestingly, older adults living with dementia who lived with others had higher odds of experiencing a fall than those who lived alone, highlighting the need for caregiver support and education in fall prevention programs.

The Need for Tailored Fall-Prevention Interventions

The study’s findings underline the need to understand and address fall risk among older adults living with dementia.

According to Okoye, “To decrease the high rates of falls among older adults with dementia, additional tailored fall-risk screening and fall-prevention interventions should be developed and tested.”

This research emphasizes that fall risk is multidimensional and influenced by various factors, including the individual’s environmental context.

The findings serve as a call to action for clinicians, researchers, and policymakers to pay greater attention to fall-risk factors among older adults living with dementia.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about new hidden cause of dementia, and these drugs linked to post-COVID dementia in older people.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was published in Alzheimer s & Dementia.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.