Elderly people suffering from depression are more likely to experience a fall, a new study has found. According to research carried out by the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing, low mood and increased anxiety can increase the risk of falling, which in turn can lead to other health issues.
Since depression affects 350 million individuals across the planet, it’s a widespread problem and one that could get worse with the world’s ageing population. Fortunately, the same study also found that the risks of falling associated with depression can be reduced by prescribing the right psychiatric medication.
Geoffrey Hoffman, lead researcher on the project, said: "Many interventions to prevent falls are expensive and time-intensive, but this is a simple and inexpensive matter of encouraging continued use of psychiatric medication while improving monitoring of fall risk and adjusting medication appropriately."
The team investigated falls in some 7,200 people over the age of 65 who were involved in the National Health and Retirement Study. The data was covered the period between 2006 and 2010, resulting in some interesting findings. Just a moderate increase in the symptoms of depression lead to a 30 per cent rise in falls within two years.
Adding appropriate medication into the situation saw the association between depression and falls drop significantly. Of course, there are a number of outside factors to consider when prescribing antidepressants and tranquilisers to the elderly. When it is possible, however, falls could be prevented.
Falls in older people are taken incredibly seriously, as they can be the precursor to other conditions, such as confusion, hip fractures and even lower life expectancy. They are also responsible for reduced independence in many people and even admissions to care homes in some cases.
Preventing falls can be achieved through a number of approaches, including removing trip hazards, balancing medications and monitoring movement. Being aware of the issue is the first step and putting measures in place prior to any incident could have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals in the long-run.