Nutritional considerations in preventing falls in long-term care facilities in Saskatchewan
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Falls are a major threat to the health of older adults. Compared to older adults who live in the community, residents of longterm care (LTC) facilities fall two to four times more often, and are twice as likely to injure themselves. While various strategies have been implemented to prevent falls and injuries among LTC residents, the role of registered dietitian and the use of nutritional interventions have been over-looked. Adequate nutrient intake, specifically of calcium and vitamin D, has shown to reduce falls and fall related injuries. The current study, in addition to studying fall-intervention strategies, examined the employment of a registered dietitian and the goal of nutrition reviews currently in place in LTC facilities through key informant interviews. Of a possible 118 facilities, telephone interviews of the Director of Care or alternate were completed by 79 LTC facilities in Saskatchewan. While approximately 70% of the LTC facilities had access to a registered dietitian, majority of them were employed as consultants and only 6% of the dietitians being full-time employees of the LTC facilities. Furthermore, majority of the interviewees reported the main goal of the nutrition review was to assess for hydration status, interventions for weight gain or loss, and calcium and vitamin D intake, but not to prevent or reduce falls. Educating regional health authorities on the significance of registered dietitians and nutrition in preventing falls can reduce the risk of falls and fall related injuries in LTC.