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1.  Altered visual-spatial attention to task-irrelevant information is associated with falls risk in older adults 
Neuropsychologia  2013;51(14):3025-3032.
Executive cognitive functions play a critical role in falls risk – a pressing health care issue in seniors. In particular, intact attentional processing is integral for safe mobility and navigation. However, the specific contribution of impaired visual-spatial attention in falls remains unclear. In this study, we examined the association between visual-spatial attention to task-irrelevant stimuli and falls risk in community-dwelling older adults. Participants completed a visual target discrimination task at fixation while task-irrelevant probes were presented in both visual fields. We assessed attention to left and right peripheral probes using event-related potentials (ERPs). Falls risk was determined using the valid and reliable Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA). We found a significantly positive association between reduced attentional facilitation, as measured by the N1 ERP component, and falls risk. This relationship was specific to probes presented in the left visual field and measured at ipsilateral electrode sites. Our results suggest that fallers exhibit reduced attention to the left side of visual space and provide evidence that impaired right hemispheric function and/or structure may contribute to falls.
PMCID: PMC4318690  PMID: 24436970 CAMSID: cams4313
Visual-spatial attention; Aging; Older adults; Falls risk; Event-related potentials (ERPs); Neuroimaging
2.  Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in reducing the probability of an elderly person’s falling and/or sustaining a fall-related injury.
Background
Although estimates of fall rates vary widely based on the location, age, and living arrangements of the elderly population, it is estimated that each year approximately 30% of community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older, and 50% of those aged 85 and older will fall. Of those individuals who fall, 12% to 42% will have a fall-related injury.
Several meta-analyses and cohort studies have identified falls and fall-related injuries as a strong predictor of admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. It has been shown that the risk of LTC home admission is over 5 times higher in seniors who experienced 2 or more falls without injury, and over 10 times higher in seniors who experienced a fall causing serious injury.
Falls result from the interaction of a variety of risk factors that can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors are those that pertain to the physical, demographic, and health status of the individual, while extrinsic factors relate to the physical and socio-economic environment. Intrinsic risk factors can be further grouped into psychosocial/demographic risks, medical risks, risks associated with activity level and dependence, and medication risks. Commonly described extrinsic risks are tripping hazards, balance and slip hazards, and vision hazards.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Question
Since many risk factors for falls are modifiable, what interventions (devices, systems, programs) exist that reduce the risk of falls and/or fall-related injuries for community-dwelling seniors?
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion Criteria
English language;
published between January 2000 and September 2007;
population of community-dwelling seniors (majority aged 65+); and
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental trials, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses.
Exclusion Criteria
special populations (e.g., stroke or osteoporosis; however, studies restricted only to women were included);
studies only reporting surrogate outcomes; or
studies whose outcome cannot be extracted for meta-analysis.
Outcomes of Interest
number of fallers, and
number of falls resulting in injury/fracture.
Search Strategy
A search was performed in OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 2000 and September 2007. Furthermore, all studies included in a 2003 Cochrane review were considered for inclusion in this analysis. Abstracts were reviewed by a single author, and studies meeting the inclusion criteria outlined above were obtained. Studies were grouped based on intervention type, and data on population characteristics, fall outcomes, and study design were extracted. Reference lists were also checked for relevant studies. The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology.
Summary of Findings
The following 11 interventions were identified in the literature search: exercise programs, vision assessment and referral, cataract surgery, environmental modifications, vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D plus calcium supplementation, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medication withdrawal, gait-stabilizing devices, hip protectors, and multifactorial interventions.
Exercise programs were stratified into targeted programs where the exercise routine was tailored to the individuals’ needs, and untargeted programs that were identical among subjects. Furthermore, analyses were stratified by exercise program duration (<6 months and ≥6 months) and fall risk of study participants. Similarly, the analyses on the environmental modification studies were stratified by risk. Low-risk study participants had had no fall in the year prior to study entry, while high-risk participants had had at least one fall in the previous year.
A total of 17 studies investigating multifactorial interventions were identified in the literature search. Of these studies, 10 reported results for a high-risk population with previous falls, while 6 reported results for study participants representative of the general population. One study provided stratified results by fall risk, and therefore results from this study were included in each stratified analysis.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Falls in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Hazard ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Odds ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
Conclusions
High-quality evidence indicates that long-term exercise programs in mobile seniors and environmental modifications in the homes of frail elderly persons will effectively reduce falls and possibly fall-related injuries in Ontario’s elderly population.
A combination of vitamin D and calcium supplementation in elderly women will help reduce the risk of falls by more than 40%.
The use of outdoor gait-stabilizing devices for mobile seniors during the winter in Ontario may reduce falls and fall-related injuries; however, evidence is limited and more research is required in this area.
While psychotropic medication withdrawal may be an effective method for reducing falls, evidence is limited and long-term compliance has been demonstrated to be difficult to achieve.
Multifactorial interventions in high-risk populations may be effective; however, the effect is only marginally significant, and the quality of evidence is low.
PMCID: PMC3377567  PMID: 23074507
3.  Longitudinal assessment of neuropsychological and temporal/spatial gait characteristics of elderly fallers: taking it all in stride 
Gait abnormalities are linked to cognitive decline and an increased fall risk within older adults. The present study addressed gaps from cross-sectional studies in the literature by longitudinally examining the interplay between temporal and spatial aspects of gait, cognitive function, age, and lower-extremity strength in elderly “fallers” and “non-fallers”. Gait characteristics, neuropsychological and physical test performance were examined at two time points spaced a year apart in cognitively intact individuals aged 60 and older (N = 416). Mixed-model repeated-measure ANCOVAs examined temporal (step time) and spatial (stride length) gait characteristics during a simple and cognitive-load walking task in fallers as compared to non-fallers. Fallers consistently demonstrated significant alterations in spatial, but not temporal, aspects of gait as compared to non-fallers during both walking tasks. Step time became slower as stride length shortened amongst all participants during the dual task. Shorter strides and slower step times during the dual task were both predicted by worse executive attention/processing speed performance. In summary, divided attention significantly impacts spatial aspects of gait in “fallers”, suggesting stride length changes may precede declines in other neuropsychological and gait characteristics, thereby selectively increasing fall risk. Our results indicate that multimodal intervention approaches that integrate physical and cognitive remediation strategies may increase the effectiveness of fall risk interventions.
doi:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00034
PMCID: PMC4364254  PMID: 25852548
longitudinal; cognitive decline; falls; gait; older adults
4.  The influence of fear of falling on gait variability: results from a large elderly population-based cross-sectional study 
Objective
To compare gait variability among older community-dwellers with and without fear of falling and history of falls, and 2) to examine the association between gait variability and fear of falling while taking into account the effect of potential confounders.
Methods
Based on a cross-sectional design, 1,023 French community-dwellers (mean age ± SD, 70.5 ± 5.0 years; 50.7% women) were included in this study. The primary endpoints were fear of falling, stride-to-stride variability of stride time and walking speed measured using GAITRite® system. Age, gender, history of falls, number of drugs daily taken per day, body mass index, lower-limb proprioception, visual acuity, use of psychoactive drugs and cognitive impairment were used as covariables in the statistical analysis. P-values less than 0.05 were considered as statistically significant.
Results
A total of 60.5% (n = 619) participants were non-fallers without fear of falling, 19% (n = 194) fallers without fear of falling, 9.9% (n = 101) non-fallers with fear of falling, and 10.7% (n = 109) fallers with fear of falling. Stride-to-stride variability of stride time was significantly higher in fallers with fear of falling compared to non-fallers without fear of falling. Full adjusted linear regression models showed that only lower walking speed value was associated to an increase in stride-to-stride variability of stride time and not fear of falling, falls or their combination. While using a walking speed ≥1.14 m/s (i.e., level of walking speed that did not influence stride-to-stride variability of stride time), age and combination of fear of falling with history of previous falls were significantly associated with an increased stride-to-stride variability of stride time.
Conclusions
The findings show that the combination of fear of falling with falls increased stride-to-stride variability of stride time. However, the effect of this combination depended on the level of walking speed, increase in stride-to-stride variability of stride time at lower walking speed being related to a biomechanical effect overriding fear of falling-related effects.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-11-128
PMCID: PMC4156618  PMID: 25168467
Fear; Accidental falls; Gait disorders; Aged
5.  Dual-task and electrophysiological markers of executive cognitive processing in older adult gait and fall-risk 
The role of cognition is becoming increasingly central to our understanding of the complexity of walking gait. In particular, higher-level executive functions are suggested to play a key role in gait and fall-risk, but the specific underlying neurocognitive processes remain unclear. Here, we report two experiments which investigated the cognitive and neural processes underlying older adult gait and falls. Experiment 1 employed a dual-task (DT) paradigm in young and older adults, to assess the relative effects of higher-level executive function tasks (n-Back, Serial Subtraction and visuo-spatial Clock task) in comparison to non-executive distracter tasks (motor response task and alphabet recitation) on gait. All DTs elicited changes in gait for both young and older adults, relative to baseline walking. Significantly greater DT costs were observed for the executive tasks in the older adult group. Experiment 2 compared normal walking gait, seated cognitive performances and concurrent event-related brain potentials (ERPs) in healthy young and older adults, to older adult fallers. No significant differences in cognitive performances were found between fallers and non-fallers. However, an initial late-positivity, considered a potential early P3a, was evident on the Stroop task for older non-fallers, which was notably absent in older fallers. We argue that executive control functions play a prominent role in walking and gait, but the use of neurocognitive processes as a predictor of fall-risk needs further investigation.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00200
PMCID: PMC4400911  PMID: 25941481
gait; falls; dual-task; executive function; ERP; aging
6.  Delirium markers in older fallers: a case-control study 
Background
When a hospitalized older patient falls or develops delirium, there are significant consequences for the patient and the health care system. Assessments of inattention and altered consciousness, markers for delirium, were analyzed to determine if they were also associated with falls.
Methods
This retrospective case-control study from a regional tertiary Veterans Affairs referral center identified falls and delirium risk factors from quality databases from 2010 to 2012. Older fallers with complete delirium risk assessments prior to falling were identified. As a control, non-fallers were matched at a 3:1 ratio. Admission risk factors that were compared in fallers and non-fallers included altered consciousness, cognitive performance, attention, sensory deficits, and dehydration. Odds ratio (OR) was reported (95% confidence interval [CI]).
Results
After identifying 67 fallers, the control population (n=201) was matched on age (74.4±9.8 years) and ward (83.6% medical; 16.4% intensive care unit). Inattention as assessed by the Months of the Year Backward test was more common in fallers (67.2% versus 50.8%, OR=2.0; 95% CI: 1.1–3.7). Fallers tended to have altered consciousness prior to falling (28.4% versus 12.4%, OR=2.8; 95% CI: 1.3–5.8).
Conclusion
In this case-control study, alterations in consciousness and inattention, assessed prior to falling, were more common in patients who fell. Brief assessments of consciousness and attention should be considered for inclusion in fall prediction.
doi:10.2147/CIA.S71033
PMCID: PMC4246925  PMID: 25473272
geriatrics; patient centered outcomes research; patient safety
7.  A Common Cognitive Profile in Elderly Fallers and in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease: The Prominence of Impaired Executive Function and Attention 
Experimental aging research  2006;32(4):411-429.
The present study examined the cognitive profile of fallers relative to healthy controls and patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a positive control group, using a computerized battery. Fallers performed more poorly than controls on executive function, attention, and motor skills, but performed comparably on memory, information processing and the Mini Mental State Exam. A similar profile was evident for PD patients. However, unlike PD patients, fallers were abnormally inconsistent in their reaction times. These findings indicate that elderly fallers may have a unique cognitive processing deficit (i.e., variability of response timing) and underscore the importance of executive function and attention as potential targets for fall risk screening and interventions.
doi:10.1080/03610730600875817
PMCID: PMC1868891  PMID: 16982571
cognitive function; aging; executive function; falls
8.  Performance Based Assessment of Falls Risk in Older Veterans with Executive Dysfunction 
Falling is a serious hazard for older veterans that may lead to severe injury, loss of independence, and death. While the American Geriatric Society (AGS) provides guidelines to screen individuals at-risk for falls, the guidelines may be less successful with specific subgroups of patients. In a veteran sample, we examined whether the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, including a modified version, the TUG-cognition, effectively detected potential fallers whose risk was associated with cognitive deficits. Specifically, we sought to determine whether TUG tasks and AGS criteria were differentially associated with executive dysfunction, whether the TUG tasks identified potential fallers outside of those recognized by AGS criteria, and whether these tasks distinguished groups of fallers. Participants included 120 mostly male patients referred to the Memory Assessment Clinic due to cognitive impairment. TUG-cognition scores were strongly associated with executive dysfunction and differed systematically between fallers grouped by number of falls. These findings suggest that the TUG-cognition shows promise in identifying fallers whose risk is related to, or compounded by cognitive impairment. Future research should study the predictive validity of these measures by following patients prospectively.
doi:10.1682/JRRD.2013.03.0075
PMCID: PMC4330968  PMID: 24933724
American Geriatric Society falls risk guidelines; cognitive impairment; executive function; falls; falls prevention; identification of falls risk; older adults; physical therapy; Timed Up and Go test; veterans
9.  Gait disturbances as specific predictive markers of the first fall onset in elderly people: a two-year prospective observational study 
Falls are common in the elderly, and potentially result in injury and disability. Thus, preventing falls as soon as possible in older adults is a public health priority, yet there is no specific marker that is predictive of the first fall onset. We hypothesized that gait features should be the most relevant variables for predicting the first fall. Clinical baseline characteristics (e.g., gender, cognitive function) were assessed in 259 home-dwelling people aged 66 to 75 that had never fallen. Likewise, global kinetic behavior of gait was recorded from 22 variables in 1036 walking tests with an accelerometric gait analysis system. Afterward, monthly telephone monitoring reported the date of the first fall over 24 months. A principal components analysis was used to assess the relationship between gait variables and fall status in four groups: non-fallers, fallers from 0 to 6 months, fallers from 6 to 12 months and fallers from 12 to 24 months. The association of significant principal components (PC) with an increased risk of first fall was then evaluated using the area under the Receiver Operator Characteristic Curve (ROC). No effect of clinical confounding variables was shown as a function of groups. An eigenvalue decomposition of the correlation matrix identified a large statistical PC1 (termed “Global kinetics of gait pattern”), which accounted for 36.7% of total variance. Principal component loadings also revealed a PC2 (12.6% of total variance), related to the “Global gait regularity.” Subsequent ANOVAs showed that only PC1 discriminated the fall status during the first 6 months, while PC2 discriminated the first fall onset between 6 and 12 months. After one year, any PC was associated with falls. These results were bolstered by the ROC analyses, showing good predictive models of the first fall during the first six months or from 6 to 12 months. Overall, these findings suggest that the performance of a standardized walking test at least once a year is essential for fall prevention.
doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00022
PMCID: PMC3933787  PMID: 24611048
risk of fall; gait analysis; gait variability; gait speed; accelerometric device; fall-related injuries; home-dwelling people; principal components analysis
10.  Comparison between elderly inpatient fallers with and without dementia 
Singapore Medical Journal  2014;55(2):67-71.
INTRODUCTION
This study aimed to examine the various factors associated with inpatient falls among patients with and without dementia in a hospital setting.
METHODS
This was a retrospective one-year study using data collected from Singapore General Hospital's electronic reporting system for inpatient falls.
RESULTS
In the study period, 298 patients aged ≥ 65 years fell during their hospital stay. The majority of the patients (n = 248) did not have dementia. In our study, fallers with dementia were more likely to use ambulatory aids, be visually impaired and have urinary incontinence. More patients with dementia than those without had a history of previous falls, and were placed on fall precaution with restricted freedom of movement, which at times, included restraints. However, the difference between patients who were put on restraints and those who were allowed to move freely was not statistically significant. The majority of falls in both groups occurred at the bedside. We found that fallers without dementia were more likely to fall during the morning shift, whereas fallers with dementia were more likely to fall during the night shift. Fallers with dementia were more likely to be confused at the time of the fall.
CONCLUSION
In our study, we found that fallers with dementia were more likely to have visual impairment, have urinary incontinence, use walking aids, and to be confused and physically restrained at the time of the fall. The fallers without dementia in our study may have undiagnosed dementia.
doi:10.11622/smedj.2014017
PMCID: PMC4291931  PMID: 24570314
delirium; dementia; inpatient falls; restraint use; urinary incontinence
11.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Introduction
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Questions
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
cost-effectiveness.
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Exercise
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Exercise
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Questions
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
12.  Can cognitive enhancers reduce the risk of falls in older people with Mild Cognitive Impairment? A protocol for a randomised controlled double blind trial 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:42.
Background
Older adults with cognitive problems have a higher risk of falls, at least twice that of cognitively normal older adults. The consequences of falls in this population are very serious: fallers with cognitive problems suffer more injuries due to falls and are approximately five times more likely to be admitted to institutional care. Although the mechanisms of increased fall risk in cognitively impaired people are not completely understood, it is known that impaired cognitive abilities can reduce attentional resource allocation while walking. Since cognitive enhancers, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, improve attention and executive function, we hypothesise that cognitive enhancers may reduce fall risk in elderly people in the early stages of cognitive decline by improving their gait and balance performance due to an enhancement in attention and executive function.
Method/Design
Double blinded randomized controlled trial with 6 months follow-up in 140 older individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Participants will be randomized to the intervention group, receiving donepezil, and to the control group, receiving placebo. A block randomization by four and stratification based on fall history will be performed. Primary outcomes are improvements in gait velocity and reduction in gait variability. Secondary outcomes are changes in the balance confidence, balance sway, attention, executive function, and number of falls.
Discussion
By characterizing and understanding the effects of cognitive enhancers on fall risk in older adults with cognitive impairments, we will be able to pave the way for a new approach to fall prevention in this population. This RCT study will provide, for the first time, information regarding the effect of a medication designed to augment cognitive functioning have on the risk of falls in older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment. We expect a significant reduction in the risk of falls in this vulnerable population as a function of the reduced gait variability achieved by treatment with cognitive enhancers. This study may contribute to a new approach to prevent and treat fall risk in seniors in early stages of dementia.
Trial Registration
The protocol for this study is registered with the Clinical Trials Registry, identifier number: NCT00934531 http://www.clinicaltrials.gov
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-42
PMCID: PMC3224736  PMID: 19674471
13.  The impact of neurological disorders on the risk for falls in the community dwelling elderly: a case-controlled study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(11):e003367.
Objectives
Owing to a lack of data, our aim was to evaluate and compare the impact of various common neurological diseases on the risk for falls in independent community dwelling senior citizens.
Design
Prospective case-controlled study.
Setting
General hospital.
Participants
Of 298 consecutive patients and 214 controls enrolled, 228 patients (aged 74.5±7.8; 61% women) and 193 controls (aged 71.4±6.8; 63% women) were included. The exclusion criteria were as follows: for patients, severe disability, disabling general condition or severe cognitive impairment; for controls, any history of neurological disorders or disabling medical conditions; and for both, age below 60 years. A matching process led to 171 age-matched and gender-matched pairs of neurological patients and healthy controls.
Main outcome measures
A 1-year incidence of falls based on patients' 12-month recall; motor and non-motor function tests to detect additional risk factors.
Results
46% of patients and 16% of controls fell at least once a year. Patients with stroke (89%), Parkinson’s disease (77%), dementia (60%) or epilepsy (57%) had a particularly high proportion of fallers, but even subgroups of patients with the least fall-associated neurological diseases like tinnitus (30%) and headache (28%) had a higher proportion of fallers than the control group. Neuropathies, peripheral nerve lesions and Parkinson's disease were predisposing to recurrent falls. A higher number of neurological comorbidities (p<0.001), lower Barthel Index values (p<0.001), lower Activities-Specific Balance Confidence scores (p<0.001) and higher Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression scores (p<0.001) as well as higher age (p<0.001) and female gender (p=0.003) proved to further increase the risk of falls.
Conclusions
Medical practitioners, allied health professionals and carers should be aware that all elderly neurological patients seen in outpatient settings are potentially at high risk for falls; they should query them routinely about previous falls and fall risks and advise them on preventive strategies.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003367
PMCID: PMC3845038  PMID: 24282241
Falls; fall risk; elderly; community dwelling; neurological disorders
14.  Spatiotemporal gait parameters and recurrent falls in community-dwelling elderly women: a prospective study 
BACKGROUND:
Falling is a common but devastating and costly problem of aging. There is no consensus in the literature on whether the spatial and temporal gait parameters could identify elderly people at risk of recurrent falls.
OBJECTIVE:
To determine whether spatiotemporal gait parameters could predict recurrent falls in elderly women.
METHOD:
One hundred and forty-eight elderly women (65-85 years) participated in this study. Seven spatiotemporal gait parameters were collected with the GAITRite(r) system. Falls were recorded prospectively during 12 months through biweekly phone contacts. Elderly women who reported two or more falls throughout the follow-up period were considered as recurrent fallers. Principal component analysis (PCA) and discriminant analysis followed by biplot graph interpretation were applied to the gait parameters.
RESULTS:
After 12 months, 23 elderly women fell twice or more and comprised the recurrent fallers group and 110 with one or no falls comprised the non-recurrent fallers group. PCA resulted in three components that explained 88.3% of data variance. Discriminant analysis showed that none of the components could significantly discriminate the groups. However, visual inspection of the biplot showed a trend towards group separation in relation to gait velocity and stance time. PC1 represented gait rhythm and showed that recurrent fallers tend to walk with lower velocity and cadence and increased stance time in relation to non-recurrent fallers.
CONCLUSIONS:
The analyzed spatiotemporal gait parameters failed to predict recurrent falls in this sample. The PCA-biplot technique highlighted important trends or red flags that should be considered when evaluating recurrent falls in elderly females.
doi:10.1590/bjpt-rbf.2014.0067
PMCID: PMC4351609  PMID: 25714603
falls; elderly; gait; principal component analysis; biplot; physical therapy
15.  Investigating the Influence of Visual Function and Systemic Risk Factors on Falls and Injurious Falls in Glaucoma Using the Structural Equation Modeling 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129316.
Purpose
To investigate the relationship between visual function and the risks of falling and injurious falls in subjects with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG)
Methods
Questionnaires were conducted in 365 POAG patients to assess history of falls and falls with injury and general patient health. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to investigate the relationship between visual function, as measured by a patient’s binocular integrated visual field and visual acuity (VA), general health and the risks of falling and injurious falls.
Results
Among the 365 subjects, 55 subjects experienced falls in the past year. A significant difference was observed in worse-eye VA between the faller and non-faller groups (p = 0.03). SEM of fallers obtained a Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) of 0.035 and a Comparative Fit Index (CFI) of 0.99. The 95% confidence intervals (CI) of regression coefficients from this model suggested better VA and worse VA were significant risk factors for falling. Among the 55 fallers, 22 subjects experienced an associated injury. There was a significant difference in gender between the non-injurious and injurious faller groups (p = 0.002). SEM of injurious fallers obtained a RMSEA of 0.074 and a CFI of 0.97. In this SEM model, the 95% CI of regression coefficients suggested gender and average total deviation values in the lower peripheral visual field were significant risk factors for an injurious fall.
Conclusions
This study suggests that worse-eye and better-eye VAs are associated with falls. Furthermore, patients with inferior visual field loss and females were found to be at greater risk of injurious falls.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129316
PMCID: PMC4459810  PMID: 26053502
16.  Identification of functional parameters for the classification of older female fallers and prediction of ‘first-time’ fallers 
Falls remain a challenge for ageing societies. Strong evidence indicates that a previous fall is the strongest single screening indicator for a subsequent fall and the need for assessing fall risk without accounting for fall history is therefore imperative. Testing in three functional domains (using a total 92 measures) were completed in 84 older women (60–85 years of age), including muscular control, standing balance, and mean and variability of gait. Participants were retrospectively classified as fallers (n = 38) or non-fallers (n = 42) and additionally in a prospective manner to identify first-time fallers (FTFs) (n = 6) within a 12-month follow-up period. Principal component analysis revealed that seven components derived from the 92 functional measures are sufficient to depict the spectrum of functional performance. Inclusion of only three components, related to mean and temporal variability of walking, allowed classification of fallers and non-fallers with a sensitivity and specificity of 74% and 76%, respectively. Furthermore, the results indicate that FTFs show a tendency towards the performance of fallers, even before their first fall occurs. This study suggests that temporal variability and mean spatial parameters of gait are the only functional components among the 92 measures tested that differentiate fallers from non-fallers, and could therefore show efficacy in clinical screening programmes for assessing risk of first-time falling.
doi:10.1098/rsif.2014.0353
PMCID: PMC4208368  PMID: 24898021
falls; functional assessment; gait; balance; force control; principal component analysis
17.  Review of fall risk assessment in geriatric populations using inertial sensors 
Background
Falls are a prevalent issue in the geriatric population and can result in damaging physical and psychological consequences. Fall risk assessment can provide information to enable appropriate interventions for those at risk of falling. Wearable inertial-sensor-based systems can provide quantitative measures indicative of fall risk in the geriatric population.
Methods
Forty studies that used inertial sensors to evaluate geriatric fall risk were reviewed and pertinent methodological features were extracted; including, sensor placement, derived parameters used to assess fall risk, fall risk classification method, and fall risk classification model outcomes.
Results
Inertial sensors were placed only on the lower back in the majority of papers (65%). One hundred and thirty distinct variables were assessed, which were categorized as position and angle (7.7%), angular velocity (11.5%), linear acceleration (20%), spatial (3.8%), temporal (23.1%), energy (3.8%), frequency (15.4%), and other (14.6%). Fallers were classified using retrospective fall history (30%), prospective fall occurrence (15%), and clinical assessment (32.5%), with 22.5% using a combination of retrospective fall occurrence and clinical assessments. Half of the studies derived models for fall risk prediction, which reached high levels of accuracy (62-100%), specificity (35-100%), and sensitivity (55-99%).
Conclusions
Inertial sensors are promising sensors for fall risk assessment. Future studies should identify fallers using prospective techniques and focus on determining the most promising sensor sites, in conjunction with determination of optimally predictive variables. Further research should also attempt to link predictive variables to specific fall risk factors and investigate disease populations that are at high risk of falls.
doi:10.1186/1743-0003-10-91
PMCID: PMC3751184  PMID: 23927446
Geriatric; Elderly; Older adults; Fall risk; Inertial sensor; Accelerometer; Gyroscope; Wearable sensor
18.  Where attention falls: Increased risk of falls from the converging impact of cortical cholinergic and midbrain dopamine loss on striatal function 
Experimental neurology  2014;257:120-129.
Falls are a major source of hospitalization, long-term institutionalization, and death in older adults and patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Limited attentional resources are a major risk factor for falls. In this review, we specify cognitive–behavioral mechanisms that produce falls and map these mechanisms onto a model of multi-system degeneration. Results from PET studies in PD fallers and findings from a recently developed animal model support the hypothesis that falls result from interactions between loss of basal forebrain cholinergic projections to the cortex and striatal dopamine loss. Striatal dopamine loss produces inefficient, low-vigor gait, posture control, and movement. Cortical cholinergic deafferentation impairs a wide range of attentional processes, including monitoring of gait, posture and complex movements. Cholinergic cell loss reveals the full impact of striatal dopamine loss on motor performance, reflecting loss of compensatory attentional supervision of movement. Dysregulation of dorsomedial striatal circuitry is an essential, albeit not exclusive, mediator of falls in this dual-system model. Because cholinergic neuromodulatory activity influences cortical circuitry primarily via stimulation of α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and because agonists at these receptors are known to benefit attentional processes in animals and humans, treating PD fallers with such agonists, as an adjunct to dopaminergic treatment, is predicted to reduce falls. Falls are an informative behavioral endpoint to study attentional–motor integration by striatal circuitry.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.04.032
PMCID: PMC4348073  PMID: 24805070
Falls; Acetylcholine; Dopamine; Striatum; Basal forebrain
19.  Objective Assessment of Fall Risk in Parkinson's Disease Using a Body-Fixed Sensor Worn for 3 Days 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96675.
Background
Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) suffer from a high fall risk. Previous approaches for evaluating fall risk are based on self-report or testing at a given time point and may, therefore, be insufficient to optimally capture fall risk. We tested, for the first time, whether metrics derived from 3 day continuous recordings are associated with fall risk in PD.
Methods and Materials
107 patients (Hoehn & Yahr Stage: 2.6±0.7) wore a small, body-fixed sensor (3D accelerometer) on lower back for 3 days. Walking quantity (e.g., steps per 3-days) and quality (e.g., frequency-derived measures of gait variability) were determined. Subjects were classified as fallers or non-fallers based on fall history. Subjects were also followed for one year to evaluate predictors of the transition from non-faller to faller.
Results
The 3 day acceleration derived measures were significantly different in fallers and non-fallers and were significantly correlated with previously validated measures of fall risk. Walking quantity was similar in the two groups. In contrast, the fallers walked with higher step-to-step variability, e.g., anterior-posterior width of the dominant frequency was larger (p = 0.012) in the fallers (0.78±0.17 Hz) compared to the non-fallers (0.71±0.07 Hz). Among subjects who reported no falls in the year prior to testing, sensor-derived measures predicted the time to first fall (p = 0.0034), whereas many traditional measures did not. Cox regression analysis showed that anterior-posterior width was significantly (p = 0.0039) associated with time to fall during the follow-up period, even after adjusting for traditional measures.
Conclusions/Significance
These findings indicate that a body-fixed sensor worn continuously can evaluate fall risk in PD. This sensor-based approach was able to identify transition from non-faller to faller, whereas many traditional metrics were not successful. This approach may facilitate earlier detection of fall risk and may in the future, help reduce high costs associated with falls.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096675
PMCID: PMC4011791  PMID: 24801889
20.  Effect of Dopaminergic Medication on Postural Sway in Advanced Parkinson’s Disease 
Background: The effect of dopaminergic therapy on balance in Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains unclear, including previous studies that excluded the effect of dyskinesias or other involuntary movements on postural sway. Additionally, medication’s effects may differ between fallers and non-fallers. In this study, the authors quantify the effect of dopaminergic medication on postural balance (sway) in advanced PD, with and without dyskinesias, and consider the patient’s history of falls.
Methods: In 24 patients with advanced idiopathic PD, postural balance was measured using a strain-gage force platform. Before and after taking dopaminergic medication, the patient’s postural sway was measured at 30-s intervals to determine sway length (SL) and sway area (SA). Data analysis included the presence of dyskinesias during “ON” medication condition and history of previous falls.
Results: No significant changes occurred in SL or SA with dopaminergic treatment for fallers without dyskinesias or non-fallers with dyskinesias. However, after dopaminergic treatment, SL and SA were 37.8 and 45% lower, respectively, in non-fallers without dyskinesias (indicating better balance) and were 87.4 and 162.8% higher, respectively, in fallers with dyskinesias (indicating poorer balance). In the ON-medication condition, SL and SA were larger in patients with dyskinesias when compared with patients without dyskinesias; SL was larger in fallers than non-fallers in both groups with or without dyskinesias.
Conclusion: Dopaminergic medication effects on postural sway could be a predictive factor for fall risk in PD patients with and without dyskinesias: specifically, decreased sway could indicate minimal fall risk whereas no change or increased postural sway could indicate a high risk.
doi:10.3389/fneur.2013.00202
PMCID: PMC3861789  PMID: 24379799
Parkinson’s disease; postural; balance; sway; dyskinesia; fall; dopaminergic; levodopa
21.  Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective
To assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling seniors.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Urinary incontinence defined as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine” was identified as 1 of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. Urinary incontinence is a health problem that affects a substantial proportion of Ontario’s community-dwelling seniors (and indirectly affects caregivers), impacting their health, functioning, well-being and quality of life. Based on Canadian studies, prevalence estimates range from 9% to 30% for senior men and nearly double from 19% to 55% for senior women. The direct and indirect costs associated with UI are substantial. It is estimated that the total annual costs in Canada are $1.5 billion (Cdn), and that each year a senior living at home will spend $1,000 to $1,500 on incontinence supplies.
Interventions to treat and manage UI can be classified into broad categories which include lifestyle modification, behavioural techniques, medications, devices (e.g., continence pessaries), surgical interventions and adjunctive measures (e.g., absorbent products).
The focus of this review is behavioural interventions, since they are commonly the first line of treatment considered in seniors given that they are the least invasive options with no reported side effects, do not limit future treatment options, and can be applied in combination with other therapies. In addition, many seniors would not be ideal candidates for other types of interventions involving more risk, such as surgical measures.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Description of Technology/Therapy
Behavioural interventions can be divided into 2 categories according to the target population: caregiver-dependent techniques and patient-directed techniques. Caregiver-dependent techniques (also known as toileting assistance) are targeted at medically complex, frail individuals living at home with the assistance of a caregiver, who tends to be a family member. These seniors may also have cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits. A health care professional trains the senior’s caregiver to deliver an intervention such as prompted voiding, habit retraining, or timed voiding. The health care professional who trains the caregiver is commonly a nurse or a nurse with advanced training in the management of UI, such as a nurse continence advisor (NCA) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The second category of behavioural interventions consists of patient-directed techniques targeted towards mobile, motivated seniors. Seniors in this population are cognitively able, free from any major physical deficits, and motivated to regain and/or improve their continence. A nurse or a nurse with advanced training in UI management, such as an NCA or CNS, delivers the patient-directed techniques. These are often provided as multicomponent interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), education on bladder control strategies, and self-monitoring. Pelvic floor muscle training, defined as a program of repeated pelvic floor muscle contractions taught and supervised by a health care professional, may be employed as part of a multicomponent intervention or in isolation.
Education is a large component of both caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions, and patient and/or caregiver involvement as well as continued practice strongly affect the success of treatment. Incontinence products, which include a large variety of pads and devices for effective containment of urine, may be used in conjunction with behavioural techniques at any point in the patient’s management.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions for the treatment of UI in community-dwelling seniors (see Appendix 1).
Research Questions
Are caregiver-dependent behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in medically complex, frail community-dwelling seniors with/without cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits?
Are patient-directed behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in mobile, motivated community-dwelling seniors?
Are behavioural interventions delivered by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting effective in improving incontinence outcomes in community-dwelling seniors?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of the analysis.
The available evidence was limited by considerable variation in study populations and in the type and severity of UI for studies examining both caregiver-directed and patient-directed interventions. The UI literature frequently is limited to reporting subjective outcome measures such as patient observations and symptoms. The primary outcome of interest, admission to a LTC home, was not reported in the UI literature. The number of eligible studies was low, and there were limited data on long-term follow-up.
Summary of Evidence on Behavioural Interventions for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors
Prompted voiding
Habit retraining
Timed voiding
Bladder training
PFMT (with or without biofeedback)
Bladder control strategies
Education
Self-monitoring
CI refers to confidence interval; CNS, clinical nurse specialist; NCA, nurse continence advisor; PFMT, pelvic floor muscle training; RCT, randomized controlled trial; WMD, weighted mean difference; UI, urinary incontinence.
Economic Analysis
A budget impact analysis was conducted to forecast costs for caregiver-dependent and patient-directed multicomponent behavioural techniques delivered by NCAs, and PFMT alone delivered by physiotherapists. All costs are reported in 2008 Canadian dollars. Based on epidemiological data, published medical literature and clinical expert opinion, the annual cost of caregiver-dependent behavioural techniques was estimated to be $9.2 M, while the annual costs of patient-directed behavioural techniques delivered by either an NCA or physiotherapist were estimated to be $25.5 M and $36.1 M, respectively. Estimates will vary if the underlying assumptions are changed.
Currently, the province of Ontario absorbs the cost of NCAs (available through the 42 Community Care Access Centres across the province) in the home setting. The 2007 Incontinence Care in the Community Report estimated that the total cost being absorbed by the public system of providing continence care in the home is $19.5 M in Ontario. This cost estimate included resources such as personnel, communication with physicians, record keeping and product costs. Clinic costs were not included in this estimation because currently these come out of the global budget of the respective hospital and very few continence clinics actually exist in the province. The budget impact analysis factored in a cost for the clinic setting, assuming that the public system would absorb the cost with this new model of community care.
Considerations for Ontario Health System
An expert panel on aging in the community met on 3 occasions from January to May 2008, and in part, discussed treatment of UI in seniors in Ontario with a focus on caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions. In particular, the panel discussed how treatment for UI is made available to seniors in Ontario and who provides the service. Some of the major themes arising from the discussions included:
Services/interventions that currently exist in Ontario offering behavioural interventions to treat UI are not consistent. There is a lack of consistency in how seniors access services for treatment of UI, who manages patients and what treatment patients receive.
Help-seeking behaviours are important to consider when designing optimal service delivery methods.
There is considerable social stigma associated with UI and therefore there is a need for public education and an awareness campaign.
The cost of incontinent supplies and the availability of NCAs were highlighted.
Conclusions
There is moderate-quality evidence that the following interventions are effective in improving UI in mobile motivated seniors:
Multicomponent behavioural interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, PFMT (with or without biofeedback), education on bladder control strategies and self-monitoring techniques.
Pelvic floor muscle training alone.
There is moderate quality evidence that when behavioural interventions are led by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting, they are effective in improving UI in seniors.
There is limited low-quality evidence that prompted voiding may be effective in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers.
There is insufficient evidence for the following interventions in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers:
habit retraining, and
timed voiding.
PMCID: PMC3377527  PMID: 23074508
22.  Age-related changes in the attentional control of visual cortex: A selective problem in the left visual hemifield 
Neuropsychologia  2011;49(7):1670-1678.
To what extent does our visual-spatial attention change with age? In this regard, it has been previously reported that relative to young controls, seniors show delays in attention-related sensory facilitation. Given this finding, our study was designed to examine two key questions regarding age-related changes in the effect of spatial attention on sensory-evoked responses in visual cortex –– are there visual field differences in the age-related impairments in sensory processing, and do these impairments co-occur with changes in the executive control signals associated with visual spatial orienting? Therefore, our study examined both attentional control and attentional facilitation in seniors (aged 66 to 74 years) and young adults (aged 18 to 25 years) using a canonical spatial orienting task. Participants responded to attended and unattended peripheral targets while we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to both targets and attention-directing spatial cues. We found that not only were sensory-evoked responses delayed in seniors specifically for unattended events in the left visual field as measured via latency shifts in the lateral occipital P1 elicited by visual targets, but seniors also showed amplitude reductions in the anterior directing attentional negativity (ADAN) component elicited by cues directing attention to the left visual field. At the same time, seniors also had significantly higher error rates for targets presented in the left vs. right visual field. Taken together, our data thus converge on the conclusion that age-related changes in visual spatial attention involve both sensory-level and executive attentional control processes, and that these effects appear to be strongly associated with the left visual field.
doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.040
PMCID: PMC3514549  PMID: 21356222 CAMSID: cams2320
Aging; Visual-spatial attention; Attentional control; Event-related potentials
23.  Dynamic Parameters of Balance Which Correlate to Elderly Persons with a History of Falls 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70566.
Poor balance in older persons contributes to a rise in fall risk and serious injury, yet no consensus has developed on which measures of postural sway can identify those at greatest risk of falling. Postural sway was measured in 161 elderly individuals (81.8y±7.4), 24 of which had at least one self-reported fall in the prior six months, and compared to sway measured in 37 young adults (34.9y±7.1). Center of pressure (COP) was measured during 4 minutes of quiet stance with eyes opened. In the elderly with fall history, all measures but one were worse than those taken from young adults (e.g., maximal COP velocity was 2.7× greater in fallers than young adults; p<0.05), while three measures of balance were significantly worse in fallers as compared to older persons with no recent fall history (COP Displacement, Short Term Diffusion Coefficient, and Critical Displacement). Variance of elderly subjects' COP measures from the young adult cohort were weighted to establish a balance score (“B-score”) algorithm designed to distinguish subjects with a fall history from those more sure on their feet. Relative to a young adult B-score of zero, elderly “non-fallers” had a B-score of 0.334, compared to 0.645 for those with a fall history (p<0.001). A weighted amalgam of postural sway elements may identify individuals at greatest risk of falling, allowing interventions to target those with greatest need of attention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070566
PMCID: PMC3734288  PMID: 23940592
24.  Feature extraction and selection for objective gait analysis and fall risk assessment by accelerometry 
Background
Falls in the elderly is nowadays a major concern because of their consequences on elderly general health and moral states. Moreover, the aging of the population and the increasing life expectancy make the prediction of falls more and more important. The analysis presented in this article makes a first step in this direction providing a way to analyze gait and classify hospitalized elderly fallers and non-faller. This tool, based on an accelerometer network and signal processing, gives objective informations about the gait and does not need any special gait laboratory as optical analysis do. The tool is also simple to use by a non expert and can therefore be widely used on a large set of patients.
Method
A population of 20 hospitalized elderlies was asked to execute several classical clinical tests evaluating their risk of falling. They were also asked if they experienced any fall in the last 12 months. The accelerations of the limbs were recorded during the clinical tests with an accelerometer network distributed on the body. A total of 67 features were extracted from the accelerometric signal recorded during a simple 25 m walking test at comfort speed. A feature selection algorithm was used to select those able to classify subjects at risk and not at risk for several classification algorithms types.
Results
The results showed that several classification algorithms were able to discriminate people from the two groups of interest: fallers and non-fallers hospitalized elderlies. The classification performances of the used algorithms were compared. Moreover a subset of the 67 features was considered to be significantly different between the two groups using a t-test.
Conclusions
This study gives a method to classify a population of hospitalized elderlies in two groups: at risk of falling or not at risk based on accelerometric data. This is a first step to design a risk of falling assessment system that could be used to provide the right treatment as soon as possible before the fall and its consequences. This tool could also be used to evaluate the risk several times during the revalidation procedure.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-10-1
PMCID: PMC3022766  PMID: 21244718
25.  Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective was to systematically review interventions aimed at preventing or reducing social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, that is, persons ≥ 65 years of age who are not living in long-term care institutions. The analyses focused on the following questions:
Are interventions to reduce social isolation and/or loneliness effective?
Do these interventions improve health, well-being, and/or quality of life?
Do these interventions impact on independent community living by delaying or preventing functional decline or disability?
Do the interventions impact on health care utilization, such as physician visits, emergency visits, hospitalization, or admission to long-term care?
Background: Target Population and Condition
Social and family relationships are a core element of quality of life for seniors, and these relationships have been ranked second, next to health, as the most important area of life. Several related concepts—reduced social contact, being alone, isolation, and feelings of loneliness—have all been associated with a reduced quality of life in older people. Social isolation and loneliness have also been associated with a number of negative outcomes such as poor health, maladaptive behaviour, and depressed mood. Higher levels of loneliness have also been associated with increased likelihood of institutionalization.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Methods of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The scientific evidence base was evaluated through a systematic literature review. The literature searches were conducted with several computerized bibliographic databases for literature published between January 1980 and February 2008. The search was restricted to English-language reports on human studies and excluded letters, comments and editorials, and case reports. Journal articles eligible for inclusion in the review included those that reported on single, focused interventions directed towards or evaluating social isolation or loneliness; included, in whole or in part, community-dwelling seniors (≥ 65 years); included some quantitative outcome measure on social isolation or loneliness; and included a comparative group. Assessments of current practices were obtained through consultations with various individuals and agencies including the Ontario Community Care Access Centres and the Ontario Assistive Devices Program. An Ontario-based budget impact was also assessed for the identified effective interventions for social isolation.
Findings
A systematic review of the published literature focusing on interventions for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors identified 11 quantitative studies. The studies involved European or American populations with diverse recruitment strategies, intervention objectives, and limited follow-up, with cohorts from 10 to 15 years ago involving mainly elderly women less than 75 years of age. The studies involved 2 classes of interventions: in-person group support activities and technology-assisted interventions. These were delivered to diverse targeted groups of seniors such as those with mental distress, physically inactive seniors, low-income groups, and informal caregivers. The interventions were primarily focused on behaviour-based change. Modifying factors (client attitude or preference) and process issues (targeting methods of at-risk subjects, delivery methods, and settings) influenced intervention participation and outcomes.
Both classes of interventions were found to reduce social isolation and loneliness in seniors. Social support groups were found to effectively decrease social isolation for seniors on wait lists for senior apartments and those living in senior citizen apartments. Community-based exercise programs featuring health and wellness for physically inactive community-dwelling seniors also effectively reduced loneliness. Rehabilitation for mild/moderate hearing loss was effective in improving communication disabilities and reducing loneliness in seniors. Interventions evaluated for informal caregivers of seniors with dementia, however, had limited effectiveness for social isolation or loneliness.
Research into interventions for social isolation in seniors has not been broadly based, relative to the diverse personal, social, health, economic, and environmentally interrelated factors potentially affecting isolation. Although rehabilitation for hearing-related disability was evaluated, the systematic review did not locate research on interventions for other common causes of aging-related disability and loneliness, such as vision loss or mobility declines. Despite recent technological advances in e-health or telehealth, controlled studies evaluating technology-assisted interventions for social isolation have examined only basic technologies such as phone- or computer-mediated support groups.
Conclusions
Although effective interventions were identified for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, they were directed at specifically targeted groups and involved only a few of the many potential causes of social isolation. Little research has been directed at identifying effective interventions that influence the social isolation and other burdens imposed upon caregivers, in spite of the key role that caregivers assume in caring for seniors. The evidence on technology-assisted interventions and their effects on the social health and well-being of seniors and their caregivers is limited, but increasing demand for home health care and the need for efficiencies warrant further exploration. Interventions for social isolation in community-dwelling seniors need to be researched more broadly in order to develop effective, appropriate, and comprehensive strategies for at-risk populations.
PMCID: PMC3377559  PMID: 23074510

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