She said the most difficult obstacle is the widespread belief that falls are a normal part of aging and cannot be prevented. “We can’t stop all falls,” Cameron conceded. “But we can greatly reduce the rate and severity of falls.” Thomas Gill, MD, professor at the Yale School of Medicine, is a leader in a clinical trial at 10 sites around the country to test whether interventions can reduce the risk of fall injuries among high-risk older populations. He said the work is based on research by his colleague Mary Tinetti, PhD, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow and fall-research pioneer who developed effective programs to prevent falls. “Falls are a complex geriatric condition that arises because of a confluence of different factors, ranging from visual impairment and balance disorders to medication use that may impair cognition or lower blood pressure,” Gill explained. He said footwear choice and home environment, such as lighting, floor and bathroom surfaces, also contribute. In the study, a nurse fall care manager identifies home and lifestyle risk factors and prioritizes and addresses them. “This is not a one-size-fits-all approach but is tailored to the specific needs of older persons,” Gill said. Implementing Preventive Knowledge Helen Lach, professor at the Saint Louis University School of Nursing, said that, since the 1980s, researchers have studied and explored the causes and risk factors of falling and have determined which interventions work. “We know more about what to do, but we’re not implementing those practices as much as we need to,” Lach said.
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