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Prevention of falls among seniors with a visual impairment

Duquette, J. (2013). Prevention of falls among seniors with a visual impairment : Information monitoring summary. Longueuil : INLB. 21 pages.

Falls result from an interaction of multiple intrinsic (individual condition and behaviour) and extrinsic (environment) risk factors. Many, however, could be corrected or at least mitigated. Recommendations in fall prevention matter support personalized multifactorial interventions aimed minimally at 1. improving motor activity capabilities (strength, balance and gait), 2. improving safety in the home environment, 3. reducing medication consumption and limiting use of psychotropic drugs, 4. and acting on at least one of the four additional risk factors, among which are visual disorders.

Seniors who have a visual trouble or deficit are 1.5-2.0 times more likely to fall than those who do not. Visual impairment (VI) adversely affects perception of environmental elements that can cause a fall. By also interfering with perception and use of static and dynamic visual information, it compromises balance and posture and increases risk of falls.

Seniors with VI are generally less active, which may cause a reduction in functional abilities and, in return, a sensory loss. This closed loop may cause degradation in efficiency of the anticipatory process and postural regulation, a reduction of dynamic balance and increased risk of falls.

In addition, fear of falling, common in older persons with VI, is a significant predictor of a future fall. It can lead to a reduction in self-confidence and activities and, consequently, deterioration in physical capabilities and quality of life.

Frontline vision impairment screening is recommended, followed by guiding the senior with a suspected visual impairment toward specialized services of an eye care or vision rehabilitation professional. Rehabilitation can help improve several modifiable risk factors, such as motor activity capabilities (balance, muscular strength and gait); visual capabilities; functional capabilities; life habits accomplishment (travel, etc.); cognitive capabilities; behaviour capabilities (e.g. affect, safety behaviour, etc.); physical environment safety, such as at home (actions regarding architectural barriers).

Sujets : Chute; Outil de prévention; Personne âgée

Type de document : Recension des écrits

Aussi disponible en français sous le titre : La prévention des chutes chez les aînés ayant une déficience visuelle

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