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Phone coaching could prevent further falls among older adults

Simple phone calls are helping keep seniors steady on their feet and out of hospital emergency departments.

A group of older Aussies who took part in a phone-based falls prevention program after being sent home from hospital were less likely to fall than their peers not receiving the calls.

The RESPOND study showed that fall rates among people aged 60-plus could be reduced by about 35 per cent if they participated in the program.

It also revealed a 63 per cent reduction in the rate of fractures in the intervention group.

The program involved a home-based risk assessment, six months of phone-based education, coaching, goal-setting, and risk factor management support, as well as links to existing services.

University of Western Australia researcher Professor Leon Flicker said the main goal of the program was to respond to the first fall to prevent the second.

Flicker said: “Previous studies with older adults have identified that negatively framed falls prevention messages are often perceived as patronising and a threat to independence.”

RESPOND, on the other hand, favoured positive health messaging. Flicker added that patients were actively involved in their care and decisions about their treatment, with participants free to choose the modules they perceived as most relevant to them.

“Now that we have shown this program works, it is really important to continue to roll it out,” he said.

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