From Statistics Canada:
One-fifth of seniors fell
In 2008–2009, approximately 20% of Canadians aged 65 and older (862,000 seniors) reported a fall in the previous year. Among seniors who fell in the past year, 61% were women and 39% were men.
Falls increased with age. About 17% of seniors between the ages of 65 and 69 reported falling in the past year, compared with 27% of seniors aged 85 and older.
What comes first – fear or a fall?
Past research has sought to understand what comes first: the fear of falling or the fall. A longitudinal study from the United States found that both occurred: in some cases falling led to fear, and in others, fear led to falls.
In general, among seniors who had not fallen, an initial fear of falling led to a higher probability of falling later on. The same study also found that among seniors who were initially not afraid of falling, those who experienced a fall were more likely to report fear of a fall 20 months later than seniors who had not fallen. That is, a fall led to the development of fear.
High risk of falling: Accurate and underestimated
Seniors who were at a high risk of falling were divided into two groups: those who accurately perceived a high risk of a fall, and those who underestimated their risk. While both groups were at high risk of a fall, compared with seniors who accurately perceived a high risk, those who underestimated their risk:
- were diagnosed with fewer chronic conditions;
- took fewer medications;
- had a better perception of their health; and
- walked more often (Chart 6).
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