Objectives: (1) to examine consequences of falls in older men and women and (2) to examine risk factors for health service use and functional decline among older fallers.
Methods: the study was performed within the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. In 1998/1999, potential risk factors were assessed during the third data collection. In 1999/2000, 204 community-dwelling persons (> or =65 years) who reported at least one fall in the year before the interview, were asked about consequences of their last fall, including physical injury, health service use, treatment and functional decline (i.e. decline in functional status, social and physical activities).
Results: as a consequence of falling, respondents reported physical injury (68.1%), major injury (5.9%), health service use (23.5%), treatment (17.2%), and decline in functional status (35.3%), and social (16.7%) and physical activities (15.2%). Using multivariate logistic regression, specific risk factors for health service use after falling could not be identified. Female gender (OR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.5-5.1), higher medication use (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.0-2.2) and depressive symptoms (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3-2.8) were independently associated with functional decline after falling. Depressive symptoms (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.2-3.3) and falls inside (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.1-6.5) were risk factors for decline in social activities, while female gender (OR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.1-7.0) and depressive symptoms (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.2-3.0) were risk factors for decline in physical activities after falling.
Conclusions: almost 70% of the respondents suffered physical injury, almost one-quarter used health services and more than one-third suffered functional decline after falling. No risk factors were found for health service use needed after falling. Female gender, higher medication use, depressive symptoms and falls inside were risk factors for functional decline after falling.