Falls in young, middle-aged and older community dwelling adults: perceived cause, environmental factors and injury

BMC Public Health. 2005 Aug 18;5:86. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-5-86.

Abstract

Background: Falls in older people have been characterized extensively in the literature, however little has been reported regarding falls in middle-aged and younger adults. The objective of this paper is to describe the perceived cause, environmental influences and resultant injuries of falls in 1497 young (20-45 years), middle-aged (46-65 years) and older (> 65 years) men and women from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging.

Methods: A descriptive study where participants completed a fall history questionnaire describing the circumstances surrounding falls in the previous two years.

Results: The reporting of falls increased with age from 18% in young, to 21% in middle-aged and 35% in older adults, with higher rates in women than men. Ambulation was cited as the cause of the fall most frequently in all gender and age groups. Our population reported a higher percentage of injuries (70.5%) than previous studies. The young group reported injuries most frequently to wrist/hand, knees and ankles; the middle-aged to their knees and the older group to their head and knees. Women reported a higher percentage of injuries in all age groups.

Conclusion: This is the first study to compare falls in young, middle and older aged men and women. Significant differences were found between the three age groups with respect to number of falls, activities engaged in prior to falling, perceived causes of the fall and where they fell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Activities of Daily Living / classification*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy