AGS issues fall prevention guidelines

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Interventions to prevent falls among the elderly should include an exercise component, according to new fall prevention guidelines from the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatric Society.

If a doctor or caregiver determines that a patient is at risk for falls, the guidelines advise several preventive interventions. These include: incorporating daily strength-building exercise or physical therapy; cataract surgery, if needed; medication reduction, if at all possible; and paying extra attention to raising low blood pressure and heart rhythm abnormalities.

The new guidelines advise that doctors and caregivers initially work together to determine if an individual is at risk for falling.

The caregiver can assess this risk by asking the resident whether he or she has fallen recently or by observing if the person is unsteady on his or her feet.

If the resident responds that he or she has fallen recently, doctors or caregivers should diagnose known problems, which could include muscle weakness, poor balance or blood pressure that drops significantly while standing.
The guidelines were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.