Development of a Falls Registry: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Each year approximately 1 in 4 healthy older adults aged 65+ years and 1 in 2 aged 80+ years living in the community will fall. Fall-related injuries are the leading cause of death and disability and cost the United States approximately $31 billion annually. Currently, no repository of scene data exists that informs prevention programs regarding circumstances that contribute to older adult falls. This was a multicenter (4 sites: Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, and Texas) pilot study consisting of interviews of older (55+ years) patients who had been admitted to a trauma center with fall-related injuries. Questions included information regarding environment, behaviors, injuries, and demographics. Additional information was abstracted from patient medical record: comorbidities, medications, and discharge information. Data are presented descriptively. Forty-nine patients were interviewed: average age was 78 years; White (93.9%); female (53.1%); and most (63.3%) had fallen before. The most commonly reported fall factors and injuries included those occurring at home without agency services (65.0%), on hard flooring (51.1%), with laced shoes (44.2%), and with walkers (36.7%) and contained contusion/open wound of head (61.2%). Survey time was anecdotally estimated at 10–15 min. Preliminary data suggest that prevention efforts should emphasize on educating older adults to focus on ambulation, body position, and use of assistive devices in their daily activities. The development of a systematic and organized registry that documents scene data would inform public health agencies to develop fall prevention programs that promote older adult safety. Furthermore, it would provide a large sample size to test factor associations with injury severity.

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