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Am Fam Physician. 1998;57(7):1497-1498

to the editor: I am a family physician in West Point, Neb., a town of 4,000. Four other physicians and I cover the emergency department at night. I have often wondered how to prevent falls in the elderly, as we see a number of elderly patients come in during the night with injuries. After getting up during the night for whatever reason, these elderly patients have tripped and fallen because they had become disoriented.
I have an idea which may have some merit for individuals who are in a nursing home or assisted care environment. Installing motion detector lights inside the apartment would enable an individual who has risen from bed during the night to see, and would decrease his or her chances of becoming disoriented. For certain individuals, this would work very well. For others, it could possibly provide too much stimulus and add to insomnia. Certainly, for those individuals at risk of falling, the trade-off may be acceptable.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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