Fear of Falls May Predict Falling Risk

GHENT, Belgium, Aug. 20 (UPI) — The fear of falling — irrespective of actual risk of falling — may result in higher risk of falling in older people, a researcher in Belgium says.

Study leader Kim Delbert, a post-doctoral fellow at Ghent University in Belgium, suggests both actual and perceived fall risk measures should be used to make fall risk assessments.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, also suggests reducing the fear of falling is not likely to increase the risk of falls by making older people overly confident.

Delbert and colleagues gave 500 people — ages 70-90 — living in Sydney extensive medical and neuropsychological assessments. Actual and perceived fall risks were then estimated and participants were followed up monthly over a one-year period.

Although most elderly people had an accurate perception of their fall risk, about one-third of either underestimated or overestimated their risk of falls.

The “anxious” group — with a low actual but high perceived fall risk also had depressive symptoms, neurotic personality traits and poor physical functioning. The “stoic” group –with high actual but low perceived fall risk — were more likely have a positive outlook on life.

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