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Evidence Summary

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Older adults with dementia and their caregivers should be engaged in care decisions to improve the adoption of effective falls prevention strategies

Meyer C, Hill S, Dow B, et al.  Translating falls prevention knowledge to community-dwelling older PLWD: A mixed-method systematic review Gerontologist. 2013;(Epub ahead of print).

Review question

What approaches are most effective for transferring knowledge about falls prevention strategies to older adults with dementia and their caregivers, and what are their views and experiences with these approaches?

Background

Reducing the rate and impact of falls among older adults living in the community has become an important topic and the focus of much research.

Strategies such as strength exercises to reduce falls have been shown to be effective, although they may be difficult to introduce to older adults with dementia, given the reduction in mental functioning that is associated with the disease.

It is important to understand how to effectively communicate about these approaches to ensure that older adults with dementia and their caregivers know about and use them.

How the review was done

Several electronic databases were searched for studies published between January 1990 and July 2012 along with manual searches of reference lists, and studies were included if they focused on the transfer of knowledge about falls prevention strategies to older adults with dementia living in the community, and their caregivers.

A total of 14,312 studies were identified in electronic searches, and an additional 22 were identified in manual searches, with 11 included after being assessed for eligibility in the review.

The review’s lead author was supported by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation.

What the researchers found

Health professional and caregiver involvement in falls prevention strategies is key to their success.

Passive provision of information to older adults with dementia and their caregivers about falls prevention strategies is not sufficient to ensure the programs are followed.

The individual preferences of older adults with dementia must be acknowledged when engaging them in decisions about their care, and may help to improve the use of effective falls prevention strategies.

Conclusion

Older adults with dementia living in the community and their caregivers need to be engaged with health professionals in decision-making about care in order to promote communication about and use of effective fall prevention strategies.

This summary is based on a review that was determined to be of medium methodological quality based on an assessment using the AMSTAR tool.




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