November 21, 2006
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
Researchers Find Falls Prevention Programs Could Cut Disability in Elderly
NEW BRUNSWICK—According to a team or researchers led by Dr. Vicki Freedman, a professor at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, implementing initiatives that prevent falls among older adults may be a particularly promising strategy for reducing the nation’s level of disability.
"Each year, about one-third of people aged 65 or older - nearly 12 million in all - experience falls," Dr. Freedman said. "Almost a quarter of those individuals suffer severe injuries, such as hip fractures, or subsequent limitations. Our research indicates that existing prevention efforts aimed at frail adults can cut their risk of falling and related injuries by about 25 percent. Reducing these risks could in turn have a sizeable effect on the nation’s disability levels."
For their analysis, Dr. Freedman's team evaluated several different approaches to reducing disability among older adults, including fall prevention, depression screening and treatment, and enhanced physical activity. They reviewed more than 100 previously published studies. Their findings, which also call for more research on the subject, were published recently in The Milbank Quarterly.
"By the year 2020, one in every seven Americans will be older than 65, yet there's surprisingly little research guiding policy makers and practitioners how best to promote declines in disability among this group," Dr. Freedman said. "As a nation, we need find ways to promote a decline in disability among this rapidly growing segment of our population, and targeting falls appears to be one area where we can make a significant impact."
To arrange an interview with Dr. Freedman, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service at (856) 566-6171 or at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.