Falls and their sequelae are a major (and costly) threat to the health and well-being of older people in the retirement population. Older people’s awareness of various risks to their health and their independence is important, as increasingly, people are taking a more active role in their medical care and in shared decision making. While this may be viewed as a positive shift in our health care paradigm, it may also lead to precarious clinical scenarios. For example, a person taking a medication that is not an optimal choice for their age group, or perhaps not even medically necessary, may state that they do not wish to attempt to discontinue this medication and that they are aware that the medication may place them at risk for falling. What may be unappreciated by the patient in this scenario (which is common place in clinical practice) is that the consequences of falls can be disastrous (as previously outlined in rationale & goals).
The purpose of this study was:
- To assess knowledge and attitudes regarding falls and their risk factors (with an emphasis on medications) in older people.
- To assess knowledge and attitudes regarding the consequences of falling in older people.
The overall goal of this project is to realize areas for improvement in falls prevention and ultimately reduce falls in older adults.
Summary of findings
Subjects were recruited from two Schlegel Village retirement communities. The principle investigator conducted interviews with all eligible participants in a quiet room within each retirement community to facilitate audio recording.
There seems to be a lack of communication between retirement community residents and their physician regarding falls. Residents are reluctant to discuss falls with their healthcare provider as they feel that their fall was not a big deal, that their healthcare provider cannot help reduce falls, or that there would be nothing that a healthcare provider can do regarding an acute fall with minimal or no injury. The study’s participants reported that healthcare providers provide little or no advice regarding falls prevention- even when an injury related to a fall was the reason for the doctor’s visit. This is a critical point for introducing secondary prevention of falls, and is therefore an area for improvement and future research.