The burden of falling on the quality of life of adults with Medicare supplement insurance

J Gerontol Nurs. 2011 Aug;37(8):36-47. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20110329-03. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


To study the impact of falling or risk of falling on quality of life (QOL) outcomes, a survey was mailed to a random sample of 15,000 adults with an AARP® Medicare Supplement plan insured by UnitedHealthcare from 10 states in 2008. Approximately 21% had fallen in the past year; 17% did not fall but reported balance or walking problems (i.e., at high risk of falling); and 62% were in the low-risk, no-falls comparison group. Multiple regression analyses showed the strongest predictors of falling or being at high risk of falling were advancing age, female gender, heart conditions, stroke, digestive disorders, arthritis, sciatica, diabetes, and hearing problems. Average physical and mental component scores were significantly lower for both those who fell and those at risk of falling than the comparison group, indicating that falling or being at risk of falling had a stronger negative influence on QOL than most of the comorbidities measured. Clinicians, patients, and families should be aware of the potential negative impact of falling and fear of falling on the QOL of older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States