5121.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 12:30 PM

Abstract #7694

Falls among the elderly in rural settings

L. Fleming Fallon, MD, DrPH, PhD, Public Health Program, Bowling Green State University, 234 Health Center, College of Health and Human Services, Bowling Green, OH 43403, 419-372-8316, ffallon@bgnet.bgsu.edu, J. Steven Fulks, PhD, Gerontology Program, Bowling Green State University, Glenn Shields, DSW, Social Work Program, Bowling green State University, and William King, PhD, Criminal Justice Program, Bowling Green State University.

Background. Falls are the leading cause of accidents for individuals over the age of 65 and the greatest contributor to accidental deaths among the elderly in the United States. Between 20 and 40 percent of those over 65 living at home fall each year. This rate increases to half of those over 80 years of age. The rural elderly are often overlooked.

We hypothesized the rural elderly are at greater risk of injury from falls in their homes than are the urban elderly. This problem is exacerbated by their desire to remain independent.

Method and Results. In a random survey of 825 people over the age of 60 in a rural county in Ohio, 301 (36.5%) responded to a written questionnaire. The average age was 72 years with a range of age from 61 to 91. One third (33.9%) of the sample lived alone. Two-thirds of females lived alone. One respondent in eight (13%) of the respondents had sustained a fall within the past year. An additional 20% reported tripping or slipping. Four out of five (80.1%) of these events occurred within the home. Most of these events could have been prevented.

A sub-sample of homes was physically inspected. Most were cluttered with piles of magazines, boxes and miscellaneous belongings that had accumulated. Organizing and discarding this material was beyond the physical capacity of most elderly people.

Recommendations. Suggestions for reducing the incidence of falls are offered. These include utilizing both informal and formal support networks.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: - Recognize indicators for falls among rural-dwelling elders - Predict individuals who are at high risk for incurring a falling injury - Assess the probability of a fall in the home

Keywords: Rural Populations, Injury

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: none
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA