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Older people with disabilities are less likely to recover from falls says study

29th August 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have conducted a study which reveals that older people with disabilities and mobility difficulties are less likely to recover if they fall. The striking figures give a great deal of insight into the importance of taking steps to prevent the likelihood of such a fall occurring.

Full details of the results of the study were published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, which can be accessed here. One hundred older people were assessed in the Yale study and all of them had fallen within the past year; the factor monitored was their recovery rate in relation to whether or not they had a severe disability before the fall. The subjects were then visited a year after their fall to see how well they were getting on, and, in summary, those who did not have a disability before their incident were far more likely to recover compared to those who had disabilities.

Startling figures revealed that older people who did not have a disability before the fall had a 45% chance of rapid recovery and 38% chance of gradual recovery, whilst those who had progressive mobility difficulties and other disabilities before the fall had a 70% probability of no recovery and those with a severe disability had a 100% probability of no recovery.

This research highlights the importance of preventing falls in the first place, ensuring that elderly people are less likely to be hospitalised and are supported at home by installing hand rails and mobility aids such as riser recliner chairs. Rather than being a cause for worry, this research will hopefully generate a reaction that will see the older generation and their support networks make further progress towards taking precautionary measures.

There are plenty of options available to help older people live their daily lives with a reduced chance of falling; a stairlift can be installed to help them get upstairs and downstairs with ease, a ramp made with non-slip material can replace outdoor steps to prevent slipping in wet or icy conditions, and low shower trays in the bathroom will lessen the chance of tripping over when exiting the shower. These are just a few adaptation ideas that can easily and affordably be added to the home of an older person with a disability.

As well as lowering the possibility of falling, installing independent-living aids can help those who are concerned about this happening feel safer in their own homes, eliminating a potential source of considerable stress. As this study from the Yale School of Medicine shows, it is well worth taking time to consider ways of reducing the potential for falls.

Image Credit: The U.S. Army (flickr.com)