Elders Scared Of Falling Experience A Higher Risk Of Actually Falling

Elders discussing their risk of falling

Researchers discover older people who are scared of falling notice a higher risk of falling in the future, regardless of the true risk they have of actually falling.

A report published online in the BMJ explains that risk assessments for falling should also include a measurement of both actual and perceived risk of falling to assist with prevention.

This study evaluated 500 individuals in Sydney between the ages of 70 and 90. Researchers hypothesized the actual and perceived fall risk for each patient and also followed-up one time per month for one year.

The future risk of a person falling is based independently on a combination of both actual and perceived risk, but individuals worried about falling are among the most likely to suffer a fall.

While most participants accurately gauged their risk of falling, about one in three were incorrect. Those experiencing the most anxiety about falling, had a low risk of an actual fall but believed their risk to be high. The other group had a high risk of an actual fall but perceived their risk to be low. Those believing a low risk were actually protected by their lack of anxiety.

Helping elderly people reduce or alleviate their fear of a fall is not likely to increase the actual risk of falling due to creating a false sense of security.

Researchers stressed the importance of maintaining a positive attitude when dealing with anxiety of falling.