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Falls and follow-ups: Medical attention following a fall critical to senior health
Date:5/13/2010

Falling down is hazardous to a senior citizen's health, yet fewer than half of all seniors see a doctor after a fall. And those who don't seek medical attention are far less likely to engage in any of the six widely recommended activities such as a review of their medications or getting a cane or walker that might prevent repeated falls, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

In the study, researchers, using data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey, found that even though 91 percent of California seniors reported seeing a doctor in the past year, a fall was rarely the reason for the visit. In fact, less than half (46.6 percent) of seniors who had fallen more than once reported a fall as the reason for a doctor's appointment.

Those who did not seek medical help were less likely to engage in activities that might prevent future falls only about 31 percent did two or more follow-up activities to prevent falls. In contrast, 73 percent of seniors who did seek medical care after a fall engaged in two or more follow-up activities.

"Following up with a doctor after a fall is critical to senior health," said UCLA Center for Health Policy Research associate director Steven P. Wallace, lead author of the policy brief. "The safeguards we discuss are some of the best ways of preventing additional falls and the disastrous health consequences associated with falls."

Falls among the elderly are a widespread problem. More than half a million older Californians (565,000) fell more than once in 2007 about 100,000 more than reported multiple falls in 2003, according to the California Department of Public Health and the Office of Statewide Planning and Development.

Falls are directly linked to declining health among older Americans: More than 1,400 California seniors died due to injuries from falls in 2007, and approximately 67,000 more were hospitalized.

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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdriscoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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