How Do Community-Dwelling Persons with Alzheimer Disease Fall? Falls in the FINALEX Study

Dement Geriatr Cogn Dis Extra. 2017 Jun 19;7(2):195-203. doi: 10.1159/000477394. eCollection May-Aug 2017.


Background: People with dementia are at high risk for falls. However, little is known of the features causing falls in Alzheimer disease (AD). Our aim was to investigate how participants with AD fall.

Methods: In the FINALEX (Finnish Alzheimer Disease Exercise Trial) study, participants' (n = 194) falls were followed up for 1 year by diaries kept by their spouses.

Results: The most common reason for falls (n = 355) was stumbling (n = 61). Of the falls, 123 led to injuries, 50 to emergency department visits, and 13 to fractures. The participants without falls (n = 103) were younger and had milder dementia than those with 1 (n = 34) or ≥2 falls (n = 57). Participants with a Mini Mental State Examination score of around 10 points were most prone to fall. In adjusted regression models, good nutritional status, good physical functioning, and use of antihypertensive medication (incident rate ratio [IRR] 0.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.54-0.85) protected against falls, whereas fall history (IRR 2.71, 95% CI 2.13-3.44), osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, higher number of drugs, drugs with anticholinergic properties, psychotropics, and opioids (IRR 4.27, 95% CI 2.92-6.24) were risk factors for falls.

Conclusions: Our study provides a detailed account on how and why people with AD fall, suggesting several risk and protective factors.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Exercise; Falls.