Falls Among Older Adults: A Public Health Concern The risk of falling increases with advancing age, and falls in older adults are associated with immediate serious consequences, such as fractures and head injuries, as well as longer-term problems, such as disability, fear of falling, and loss of independence. The determination of fall risk among older adults and the ... Article
Article  |   December 2011
Falls Among Older Adults: A Public Health Concern
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jaynee Handelsman
    Vestibular Testing Center, Pediatric Audiology, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI
  • © 2011 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Balance & Balance Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Articles
Article   |   December 2011
Falls Among Older Adults: A Public Health Concern
SIG 8 Perspectives on Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance, December 2011, Vol. 12, 13-18. doi:10.1044/hcoa12.1.13
SIG 8 Perspectives on Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance, December 2011, Vol. 12, 13-18. doi:10.1044/hcoa12.1.13

The risk of falling increases with advancing age, and falls in older adults are associated with immediate serious consequences, such as fractures and head injuries, as well as longer-term problems, such as disability, fear of falling, and loss of independence. The determination of fall risk among older adults and the prevention of falls have been a major focus of research for more than a decade. A number of factors have been identified that increase the likelihood that an individual will fall, and various strategies for assessing falls risk have been reported. Some have proposed clinically based assessment tools that can be easily included as part of an annual exam, whereas others have proposed laboratory based comprehensive evaluations. Regardless of the type of falls assessment strategy, the desired outcome is to provide interventions that may result in a reduction in falls risk. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief review of the magnitude of the problem, factors that are known to be associated with an increased risk of falls, components that may be included in a fall prevention program, and evidence of factors that contribute to improved outcomes.

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