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Clinical Cases in mineral and bone metabolism

Fall prevention in the elderly

Mini-reviews, 91 - 95
doi: 10.11138/ccmbm/2013.10.2.091
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Abstract
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Falls are frequent in the elderly and affect mortality, morbidity, loss of functional capacity and institutionalization.
In the older patient the incidence of falls can sometimes be underestimated, even in the absence of a clear cognitive impairment, because it is often difficult to reconstruct the dynamics. It is quite common that forms due to syncope are associated with retrograde amnesia and in 40 to 60% of the cases falls happen in the absence of witnesses.
The pathogenesis of falls is often multifactorial, due to physiological age-related changes or more properly pathological factors, or due to the environment. The identification of risk factors is essential in the planning of preventive measures. Syncope is one of major causes of falls. About 20% of cardiovascular syncope in patients older than 70 appears as a fall and more than 20% of older people with Carotid Sinus Syndrome complain of falls as well as syncope. These data clearly state that older
patients with history of falls should undergo a cardiovascular and neuroautonomic assessment besides the survey of other risk factors. Multifactorial assessment requires a synergy of various specialists. The geriatrician coordinates the multidisciplinary intervention in order to make the most effective evaluation of the risk of falling, searching for all predisposing factors, aiming towards a program of prevention. In clear pathological conditions it is possible to enact a specific treatment. Particular attention must indeed be paid to the re-evaluation of drug therapy, with dose adjustments or withdrawal especially for antihypertensive, diuretics and benzodiazepines. The Guidelines of the American Geriatrics Society recommend modification of environmental hazards, training paths, hip protectors and appropriate use of support tools (sticks, walkers), which can be effective elements of a multifactorial intervention program. Balance exercises are also recommended. In conclusion, an initial assessment, supported by a comprehensive cardiovascular and neuroautonomic evaluation, allows for reaching a final diagnosis in most cases, demonstrating a key role in the real identification of the etiology of the fall and implementing the treatment measures.

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