Dizziness as a geriatric condition among rural community-dwelling older adults

J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Jun;15(6):490-7. doi: 10.1007/s12603-011-0050-4.


Background: Dizziness is a common symptom in older adults. The majority of those with dizziness tend to have more than one risk factor, suggesting that dizziness is a multifactorial geriatric condition. Therefore, associated factors must be determined to permit risk-reduction approaches.

Objective: To examine the associations between dizziness and socio-demographic, physical, functional and psychological health factors among older persons living in the Andes Mountains.

Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.

Settings/participants: One thousand six hundred ninety-two community-living people aged 60 years and over living in four rural and suburban areas of villages in coffee-grower zones in the Colombian Andes Mountains.

Measurements: Outcome measures included self-reporting of dizziness as a symptom experienced either very frequently or continuously during the last month. Independent variables were demographic, socioeconomic and social factors; disease and biomedical factors; functional status and performance-based measures; and psychological factors such as depressive symptoms and self-rated health.

Results: Dizziness was reported by 15.2% of participants in the study. Variables independently associated with dizziness were: number of chronic conditions, visual impairment, and use of more than four medications. Independently associated psychological variables were: poor self-perceived health, cognitive impairment and depression. Health and psychological factors accounted for 85% of dizziness.

Conclusion: Older persons who reported dizziness were more physically frail, with more instances of chronic conditions and sensory impairments, and had poor self-perceptions of their health. Biomedical and psychological factors showed a strong independent association with dizziness. A multifactorial intervention targeting the identified factors would reduce dizziness in older people. However, this approach may need to address different sets of specific factors related to the dizziness categories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Colombia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / complications*
  • Dizziness / epidemiology
  • Dizziness / etiology*
  • Dizziness / psychology
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Self Report
  • Vision Disorders / complications*