Presentation Title

Rural residence, nutrition risk and falls in community-dwelling, older adults

Abstract

Rural residence, nutrition risk and falls in community-dwelling, older adults

Caitlin Eckert, Jennifer Schollmeyer, Emily Tarleton, Mariana Wingood, Nancy Gell

Among adults 65 years and older, falls are a leading cause of injury and death. Nutritional status and living in a rural setting may be independent predictors of falls. Decreasing risk for falls and maintaining independence is vital for community dwelling older adults. The aim of this study is to evaluate if nutritional status and rurality are positively associated with fall risk and are predictive of falls in a sample of community-dwelling older adults in Vermont. We conducted secondary data analyses using responses to a health risk assessment conducted by the Support and Services at Home (SASH) organization serving Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont from 2017-2019 (n=3109; 79.6 years ±8.4, 75% female). A subset of 2254 participants provided repeat data after one year. Measures included the Fall Risk Questionnaire, The Determine Nutrition Risk questionnaire, and fall history. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were used to identify associations of a new fall with respect to rurality, fall risk, and nutritional status. At baseline, 67% of participants lived in rural communities, 37% had high nutrition risk, and 60% had elevated fall risk. Independently, rurality and high nutrition risk were significantly associated with fall risk (p<0.001) and high nutrition risk was associated with rurality (p<0.001). In a model adjusted for age, sex, physical function, and fall risk, rural residence was not significantly associated with a new fall during the next year, whereas participants at high nutrition risk had a 50% higher odds of falling. These findings suggest that falls may be associated with nutrition risk, but not living in a rural setting. Community-based programs for Medicare beneficiaries could consider nutrition as a possible predictor of falls and provide screenings. Further research might identify services to alleviate high nutrition risk in older adults and aspects of nutrition most protective against a new fall.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Nancy Gell

Status

Graduate

Student College

Larner College of Medicine

Program/Major

Public Health

Primary Research Category

Health Sciences

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Rural residence, nutrition risk and falls in community-dwelling, older adults

Rural residence, nutrition risk and falls in community-dwelling, older adults

Caitlin Eckert, Jennifer Schollmeyer, Emily Tarleton, Mariana Wingood, Nancy Gell

Among adults 65 years and older, falls are a leading cause of injury and death. Nutritional status and living in a rural setting may be independent predictors of falls. Decreasing risk for falls and maintaining independence is vital for community dwelling older adults. The aim of this study is to evaluate if nutritional status and rurality are positively associated with fall risk and are predictive of falls in a sample of community-dwelling older adults in Vermont. We conducted secondary data analyses using responses to a health risk assessment conducted by the Support and Services at Home (SASH) organization serving Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont from 2017-2019 (n=3109; 79.6 years ±8.4, 75% female). A subset of 2254 participants provided repeat data after one year. Measures included the Fall Risk Questionnaire, The Determine Nutrition Risk questionnaire, and fall history. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were used to identify associations of a new fall with respect to rurality, fall risk, and nutritional status. At baseline, 67% of participants lived in rural communities, 37% had high nutrition risk, and 60% had elevated fall risk. Independently, rurality and high nutrition risk were significantly associated with fall risk (p<0.001) and high nutrition risk was associated with rurality (p<0.001). In a model adjusted for age, sex, physical function, and fall risk, rural residence was not significantly associated with a new fall during the next year, whereas participants at high nutrition risk had a 50% higher odds of falling. These findings suggest that falls may be associated with nutrition risk, but not living in a rural setting. Community-based programs for Medicare beneficiaries could consider nutrition as a possible predictor of falls and provide screenings. Further research might identify services to alleviate high nutrition risk in older adults and aspects of nutrition most protective against a new fall.