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Diabetes causes elderly falls

26th September 2005

Nursing home staff should be more aware of diabetes as a cause of elderly falls, according to a new study from the US.

Research from the Columbia University Medical Centre and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital suggests that nursing home residents with diabetes are four times more likely to fall than those who do not have the condition.

The study, which followed 139 nursing home residents, also found 78 per cent of participants who had diabetes fell within the 299-day study period, while only 30 per cent of those without diabetes experienced falls.

Researcher Dr Mathew Maurer said the study clearly indicated that nursing homes, assisted living facilities and others that care for the elderly should consider diabetes a significant risk factor for falling.

"In an era of limited resources, knowing that diabetics are more likely to fall may facilitate identifying older individuals who are likely to benefit from interventions aimed at reducing falls and their consequences," he added.

Dr Maurer suggested that problems with peripheral nerves that can affect sensations in the feet of diabetic people might be the mechanism for the higher fall rate.

The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Gerontology.