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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2010 June;46(2):249-59

Copyright © 2010 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Assessing falls in the elderly: should we use simple screening tests or a comprehensive fall risk evaluation?

Persad C. C., Cook S., Giordani B.

Neuropsychology Section, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


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The risk for falling increases in the older population, resulting in an increase in serious outcomes and associated health care costs. Incorporating a falls assessment measure into the routine clinical evaluation is important for early identification of elders who are at greater risk for falls and provide information that can guide interventions. This article reviews a sample of available falls assessment approaches that are targeted to community dwelling older adults, ranging from simple questionnaires to more functional-based assessments. Newer high-tech and laboratory-based procedures still under development also are discussed. Finally, additional factors related to older individuals, specifically cognition- and emotion-based features that can impact falls risk are discussed as related to their importance for consideration in routine falls assessments. This paper summarizes information to help guide the clinician in choosing the most appropriate currently available tool. As many of these measures are similar in their sensitivity and specificity, decisions on which approach to take in many cases may have to be informed also by the clinic setting and existing resources available to the clinician.

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