Objective: Scant attention has been paid to the risk factors for recurrent falls among the home-dwelling elderly, although there are remarkable age and sex differences according to whether or not the falls recur. In this report we describe and analyse the risk factors for recurrent falls by selected clinical variables and the history of falling during the previous year.
Design: A community-based prospective study covering two years.
Setting: All home-dwelling persons (N = 1016) aged 70 years or older living in five municipalities in northern Finland.
Outcome measures: The risk factors of recurrent falling by selected clinical variables using cross-tabulations and multivariate analyses.
Results: Previous falls, peripheral neuropathy, use of psychotropic medication and slow walking speed were independent risk factors for recurrent falling. The risk of recurrent falling increased with an increasing number of previous falls.
Conclusions: Early preventive measures should be taken among the elderly persons who are prone to falling. In order to reduce the risk of recurrent falls among the elderly, the attending physician should take a critical view of the use of psychotropic medications, and attempts should be made to treat conditions underlying peripheral neuropathies and abnormal gait.