About Careers MedBlog Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Older People's Fall Risk Increased by Fear

by Kathy Jones on August 22, 2010 at 11:55 AM
Font : A-A+

 Older People's Fall Risk Increased by Fear

The fear of falling is likely to lead to future falls among older people, irrespective of their actual fall risk, a new study has found.

This indicates that measures of both actual and perceived fall risk should be included in fall risk assessments to help tailor interventions for preventing falls in older people, say the authors.

Advertisement

Fear of falling is common in older people and is associated with poor balance, anxiety, depression and falls. But the problem of irrational fear has been neglected in the scientific literature.

So a team of researchers from Australia and Belgium set out to improve their understanding of fear of falling and its impact on the risk of falls.
Advertisement

Five hundred people, aged 70 to 90 years, living in Sydney took part in the study and underwent an extensive medical and neuropsychological assessment. Actual and perceived fall risks were then estimated using recognised scoring scales and participants were followed up monthly over a one-year period.

The researchers found that both actual fall risk and perceived fall risk independently contribute to a person's future fall risk.

Further analysis was then used to split the sample into four groups based on the disparity between actual and perceived risk.

Most people had an accurate perception of their fall risk. Those in the "vigorous" group (low actual and low perceived fall risk) were considered at low risk of future significant falls, while those in the "aware" group (high actual and high perceived fall risk) were considered at high risk of future significant falls.

However, about one third of elderly people either underestimated or overestimated their risk of falls.

For example, the "anxious" group had a low actual but high perceived fall risk, which was related to depressive symptoms, neurotic personality traits and poor physical functioning. In contrast, the "stoic" group had a high actual but low perceived fall risk, which was protective for falling, and related to a positive outlook on life, physical activity, and community participation.

Overall, it seems that high levels of perceived fall risk are likely to result in future falls, irrespective of the actual risk, and the disparity between actual and perceived fall risk contributes to risk mainly through psychological pathways, say the authors.

The findings also suggest that reducing fear of falling is not likely to increase the risk of falls by making older people overly confident, they add.

The study has been published on bmj.com.

Source: ANI
Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

open close
CONSULT ONLINE WITH A DOCTOR

×

Older People's Fall Risk Increased by Fear Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests