Updated guidelines issued for fall prevention in the elderly

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The American Geriatrics Society and British Geriatrics Society announced updated guidelines recently on preventing falls in elderly patients.

The guidelines, which were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on Jan. 13, update the societies' 2001 guidelines on this topic. New recommendations include the following:All fall prevention interventions in community-dwelling older persons should include exercise to improve balance, gait and strength, such as physical therapy or tai chi.Multifactorial fall risk assessment should evaluate the feet and footwear, patients' fear of falling, and patients' assessment of their functional ability.Home safety should be determined during fall risk assessment.Necessary cataract surgery should be expedited in older women at risk for falls.All current medications should be reviewed and minimized or withdrawn if possible.

The guidelines were developed by an expert panel and were based on a systematic review of studies published from May 2001 and April 2008. Randomized, controlled trials published between April 2008 and July 2009 were also reviewed but did not change the recommendations, the American Geriatrics Society said in a press release.

The full guidelines, which include a fall risk assessment algorithm, are available online.