Items in AFP with MESH term: Accidental Falls
Prevention of Falls in Older Patients - Article
ABSTRACT: Falls are one of the most common geriatric syndromes threatening the independence of older persons. Between 30 and 40 percent of community-dwelling adults older than 65 years fall each year, and the rates are higher for nursing home residents. Falls are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and nursing home placement. Most falls have multiple causes. Risk factors for falls include muscle weakness, a history of falls, use of four or more prescription medications, use of an assistive device, arthritis, depression, age older than 80 years, and impairments in gait, balance, cognition, vision, and activities of daily living. Physicians caring for older patients should ask about any falls that have occurred in the past year. Assessment should include evaluating the circumstances of the fall and a complete history and physical examination, looking for potential risk factors. The most effective fall prevention strategies are multifactorial interventions targeting identified risk factors, exercises for muscle strengthening combined with balance training, and withdrawal of psychotropic medication. Home hazard assessment and modification by a health professional also is helpful.
ABSTRACT: The incidence of hip fracture is expected to increase as the population ages. One in five persons dies in the first year after sustaining a hip fracture, and those who survive past one year may have significant functional limitation. Although surgery is the main treatment for hip fracture, family physicians play a key role as patients' medical consultants. Surgical repair is recommended for stable patients within 24 to 48 hours of hospitalization. Antibiotic prophylaxis is indicated to prevent infection after surgery. Thromboprophylaxis has become the standard of care for management of hip fracture. Effective agents include unfractionated heparin, low-molecular-weight heparin, fondaparinux, and warfarin. Optimal pain control, usually with narcotic analgesics, is essential to ensure patient comfort and to facilitate rehabilitation. Rehabilitation after hip fracture surgery ideally should start on the first postoperative day with progression to ambulation as tolerated. Indwelling urinary catheters should be removed within 24 hours of surgery. Prevention, early recognition, and treatment of contributing factors for delirium also are crucial. Interventions to help prevent future falls, exercise and balance training in ambulatory patients, and the treatment of osteoporosis are important strategies for the secondary prevention of hip fracture.
ABSTRACT: The number of persons 65 years of age and older continues to increase dramatically in the United States. Comprehensive health maintenance screening of this population is becoming an important task for primary care physicians. As outlined by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, assessment categories unique to elderly patients include sensory perception and injury prevention. Geriatric patients are at higher risk of falling for a number of reasons, including postural hypotension, balance or gait impairment, polypharmacy (more than three prescription medications) and use of sedative-hypnotic medications. Interventional areas that are common to other age groups but have special implications for older patients include immunizations, diet and exercise, and sexuality. Cognitive ability and mental health issues should also be evaluated within the context of the individual patient's social situation-not by screening all patients but by being alert to the occurrence of any change in mental function. Using an organized approach to the varied aspects of geriatric health, primary care physicians can improve the care that they provide for their older patients.
Falls in the Elderly - Article
ABSTRACT: Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency departments in the United States and the primary etiology of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65 years. The mortality rate for falls increases dramatically with age in both sexes and in all racial and ethnic groups, with falls accounting for 70 percent of accidental deaths in persons 75 years of age and older. Falls can be markers of poor health and declining function, and they are often associated with significant morbidity. More than 90 percent of hip fractures occur as a result of falls, with most of these fractures occurring in persons over 70 years of age. One third of community-dwelling elderly persons and 60 percent of nursing home residents fall each year. Risk factors for falls in the elderly include increasing age, medication use, cognitive impairment and sensory deficits. Outpatient evaluation of a patient who has fallen includes a focused history with an emphasis on medications, a directed physical examination and simple tests of postural control and overall physical function. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of the fall and can return the patient to baseline function.
Which Interventions Help to Prevent Falls in the Elderly? - Cochrane for Clinicians
ABSTRACT: Understanding the distinctions between the management of clinical problems in nursing homes compared with the community setting helps improve the overall care of nursing home residents. Liberalizing diets helps avoid unintentional weight loss in nursing home residents, although the use of feeding tubes usually does not improve nutrition or decrease aspiration risk. Medical assessment, treatment of comorbidities, and appropriate use of rehabilitation therapies minimize the frequency of falls. Toileting programs may be used to treat incontinence and retention in cooperative patients. Adverse effects and drug interactions should be considered when initiating pharmacologic treatment of overactive bladder. Urinary tract infection and pneumonia are the most common bacterial infections in nursing home residents. Signs and symptoms of infection include fever or hypothermia, and functional decline. Virus identification is recommended for influenza-like illnesses. Nonpharmacologic behavioral management strategies are the preferred treatment for dementia-related problem behaviors. The Beers criteria, which outline potentially inappropriate medication use in older persons, provide guidance for medication use in the nursing home.
ABSTRACT: Gait and balance disorders are common in older adults and are a major cause of falls in this population. They are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as reduced level of function. Common causes include arthritis and orthostatic hypotension; however, most gait and balance disorders involve multiple contributing factors. Most changes in gait are related to underlying medical conditions and should not be considered an inevitable consequence of aging. Physicians caring for older patients should ask at least annually about falls, and should ask about or examine for difficulties with gait and balance at least once. For older adults who report a fall, physicians should ask about difficulties with gait and balance, and should observe for any gait or balance dysfunctions. The Timed Up and Go test is a fast and reliable diagnostic tool. Persons who have difficulty or demonstrate unsteadiness performing the Timed Up and Go test require further assessment, usually with a physical therapist, to help elucidate gait impairments and related functional limitations. The most effective strategy for falls prevention involves a multifactorial evaluation followed by targeted interventions for identified contributing factors. Evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for gait and balance disorders is limited because of the lack of standardized outcome measures determining gait and balance abilities. However, effective options for patients with gait and balance disorders include exercise and physical therapy. (Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(1):61-68. Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Family Physicians.)
The Geriatric Assessment - Article
ABSTRACT: The geriatric assessment is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary assessment designed to evaluate an older person’s functional ability, physical health, cognition and mental health, and socioenvironmental circumstances. It is usually initiated when the physician identifies a potential problem. Specific elements of physical health that are evaluated include nutrition, vision, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, and balance. The geriatric assessment aids in the diagnosis of medical conditions; development of treatment and follow-up plans; coordination of management of care; and evaluation of long-term care needs and optimal placement. The geriatric assessment differs from a standard medical evaluation by including nonmedical domains; by emphasizing functional capacity and quality of life; and, often, by incorporating a multidisciplinary team. It usually yields a more complete and relevant list of medical problems, functional problems, and psychosocial issues. Well-validated tools and survey instruments for evaluating activities of daily living, hearing, fecal and urinary continence, balance, and cognition are an important part of the geriatric assessment. Because of the demands of a busy clinical practice, most geriatric assessments tend to be less comprehensive and more problem-directed. When multiple concerns are presented, the use of a “rolling” assessment over several visits should be considered.