Association of Loneliness With Falls: A Study of Older US Adults Using the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project

Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2021 Jan 29;7:2333721421989217. doi: 10.1177/2333721421989217. eCollection Jan-Dec 2021.

Abstract

Objectives: Falls represent a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults, and are more common among those living alone. We aimed to determine if there is an association between loneliness and falls. Methods: Participants were surveyed in three waves separated by 5 years. We used the three-item UCLA Loneliness Scale to measure loneliness. Results: Data from 2337 respondents, with both loneliness and fall data in at least two consecutive waves, were included. Over three waves, 51% respondents reported a fall and 23% reported ≥ two falls. In multivariate analysis, the odds of having ≥ one fall 5 years later increased by a factor of 1.11 per one point increase on the loneliness scale (OR = 1.11, 95% CI 1.04, 1.19; p < .01). Discussion: Lonely older adults have increased odds of future falls. Strategies for combating loneliness in older adults may help reduce fall-related morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: comorbidity; depression; falls; loneliness; mortality; older adults.