More adults are falling every year, despite prevention efforts

Falls are a leading cause of hospitalization and institutionalization for older adults in the U.S. and fall prevention efforts are an important part of geriatric education and health.

Yet, a new University of Michigan study found that despite prevention efforts, falls increase by about 1.5% annually, with wide variations in incidence based on geography.

“It could be that efforts aren’t working–or that they are, by mitigating even worse potential injury risk in the population,” said Geoffrey Hoffman, assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing and co-author of the research letter, which appears in JAMA Network Open. “Either way, more investment in prevention, such as education and funding for fall education and prevention programs, would help.”

It’s not clear why falls are increasing. Researchers adjusted for age, but the study could have captured population changes in health and function, or in prescribing patterns for medications associated with increased falls. Or, Hoffman said, the results could reflect other factors–for instance, a more active older adult population could result in more falls. Finally, the findings could reflect other changes in treatment and care, or how fall injuries are administratively coded.

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