Is independence of older adults safe considering the risk of falls?

BMC Geriatr. 2017 Mar 14;17(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0461-0.


Background: Falls affect approx. 30% of elderly population per year. They cause major injuries and reduce independence of the older adults' functioning. The main objective of the study was to evaluate the degree of independence and find the fall risk factors in the study group.

Methods: The study included 506 - older adults. The study group included patients from GP clinics and members of two senior centers. The study duration was 12 months. Our study tools included EASY- Care Standard 2010 questionnaire, Abbreviated Mental Test Score (AMTS), Index Barthel, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale (IADL), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Timed Up and Go (TUG).

Results: The study included 357 (70.6%) female and 149 (29.4%) male subjects. The mean age of the study group patients was 75.7 years ± 8.0. Most of the older adult subjects were independent in both basic (Index Barthel) and instrumental (IADL) activities. Gait fluency evaluated in TUG scale found slow and unsteady gait in 33.7% of the subjects. 27.5% of the subjects used mobility aids when walking. In the Risk of falls scale, 131 subjects (25.89%) were at risk of falls. According to logistic regression the main risk of fall determinants (p <0.05) in the study group were: age, previous falls, feet problems, lack of regular care, impaired vision, urinary incontinence, pain, sleeping disorders, and lowered mood.

Conclusions: Risk of falls increases in people less independent in terms of basic and complex life activities and in people with depression. Most of the risk factors can be modified. It is necessary to develop a standard procedure aimed at preventing falls in the elderly.

Keywords: Elderly people; Falls; Life activities.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Depression* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Independent Living / psychology
  • Independent Living / statistics & numerical data
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Needs Assessment
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Walking*