A simple and cheap nutrition supplement has reduced falls among the elderly living in Victorian aged care hostels according to a new Australian study.
The dairy based supplement was added to basic foods in 20 Victorian aged care hostels. More than 1200 residents took part in the two-year study which was led by the University of Melbourne and Austin Health.
The supplement powder is made predominantly from proteins and minerals in milk and is high in protein, calcium and Vitamin D. It was added to foods such as cakes, quiches and sauces.
“The rate of falls significantly dropped in those who took the supplement, especially in those who had a history of falls," said lead researcher Dr Sandra Iuliano-Burns of the University’s Department of Endocrinology based at Austin Health.
“Some of the benefit may result directly from slowing bone loss however it is also possible that the supplement impacts other physical aspects such as muscle strength and the ability to balance."
“If residents fall over less often they are less likely to have a fracture," said Dr Iuliano-Burns.
Falls in the elderly and the consequent bone fractures and other injuries, often result in greater disability and the need for more intensive aged care support.
The research findings support the recommendations in a joint position statement on calcium and bone health published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
The results were presented at an international bone health conference in Sydney.
(Source: University of Melbourne: Medical Journal of Australia: March 2009)