Fractures & falling

Falls: circumstances and consequences


Contact: Natasja van Schoor

Background
Falls often occur in the elderly. About 30% of community-dwelling persons over the age of 65 fall at least once each year and about 15% fall two or more times a year.1,2 The consequences of falls could be serious, for example a fall could result in a hip fracture (1%), other fractures (3%), or a head trauma (3%).3 However, little is known about other consequences. For the prevention of falling, it may help to determine which of the environmental and behavioral factors often leads to falls.

Circumstances and consequences of falls within LASA
During the third data-collection of LASA (1998/1999) the circumstances and consequences of falls were investigated (LASAD187). The circumstances and consequences of a maximum of two falls in the year before the interview were assessed (asked retrospectively). The location (e.g. living room, street, kitchen) and the occasion (e.g. trips, slips, dizziness) of falls, the activity performed just before falling (e.g. walking, gardening, bicycling), physical injuries (fracture, brain injury, open wound) and the use of medical help because of a fall (e.g. general practitioner, hospital, nursing home) were assessed. Furthermore, we asked whether the respondent changed anything in het house because of falling (e.g. antislip in bathroom, higher toilet, more light in the room).

The circumstances and consequences of falls were also determined (in more detail) within a smaller subsample (n=439) of the LASA population (see Prevention of fall accidents). In this substudy, we asked about the circumstances and consequences of the last fall in the year before the interview.

Previous use within LASA
The results of the substudy have been published.(4)

References

  1. Tinetti, M. E., Speechly, M., & Ginter, S. F. (1988). Risk factors for falls among elderly persons living in the community. The New England Journal of Medicine, 319, 1701-1707.
  2. Tromp, A. M., Smit, J. H., Deeg, D. J. H., Bouter, L. M., Lips, P. (1998). Predictors for falls and fractures in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 13, 1932-1939.
  3. Nevitt MC, Cummings SR, Kidd S, Black D. Risk factors for recurrent nonsyncopal falls: a prospective study. JAMA 1989; 261: 2663-8.
  4. Stel VS, Smit JH, Pluijm SM et al. Consequences of falling in older men and women and risk factors for health service use and functional decline. Age Ageing 2004; 33(1): 58-65.