Study: Diabetes quadruples residents' risk of falling

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Diabetic nursing home residents are four times more likely to experience falls than residents who do not have diabetes, according to a recent study in the Journal of Gerontology.

Researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion followed 139 nursing home residents over a 299-day period. They found that 78% of the patients who had diabetes fell within the study period, compared to 30% of those who were not diabetic.

Results revealed that, along with balance and gait, diabetes is one of the strongest predictors of falling in elderly people. Risk factors defined for falls among elderly nursing home residents previously were vision impairment, medications, gait or balance disorder.

Study researchers said peripheral neuropathy, a condition caused by problems with peripheral nerves, that can affect the sensation in diabetics' feet, could contribute to the high fall rate. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the American Federation of Aging Research and conducted at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, NY.