Study: Falls lead to declines in seniors

More than half of emergency room visits by elderly patients age 65 and older are due to injuries sustained from falls.
By Amy Wallace  |  July 6, 2017 at 4:30 PM
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July 6 (UPI) -- Researchers in Thailand found that injuries sustained from falls in the elderly are linked to significant adverse events within 6 months of the original fall.

More than half of seniors age 65 and older who go to the emergency room are there because of injuries sustained from a fall.

A new study, published July 5 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, by the American College of Emergency Physicians and Navamindradhiraj University in Thailand has found a link between falls and subsequent declines in the elderly.

"Our study shows an even higher rate of adverse events than previous studies have," Dr. Jiraporn Sri-on, of Navamindradhiraj University, said in a press release. "Patients taking psychiatric and/or sedative medications had even more adverse events. This is concerning because these types of drugs are commonly prescribed for elderly patients in community and residential care settings."

The study showed risk factors for seniors to have an adverse event in the first six months after a fall included diabetes, taking psychiatric or sedative medications and polypharmacy, taking five or more medications.

The study of 350 seniors who visited the emergency room for injuries from a fall, 7.7 percent had adverse events within the first seven days after their injury, 21.4 percent within 30 days of their injury and 50.3 percent within the first six months of their injury.

Of the adverse events within six months, 22.6 percent had at least one other fall, 42.6 percent had to return to the emergency room, 31.1 percent had to be admitted to the hospital and 2.6 percent died.

"Emergency physicians have a tremendous opportunity to reduce the very high adverse event rate among older emergency patients who have fallen," Sri-on said. "Fall guidelines exist and work needs to be done to increase their implementation in emergency departments so patients can be educated on how not to fall again once they have been discharged from the emergency department."

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