Fall risk factors in older Americans
Cook, Chad Edward
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Older American consumers require accurate and complete information in order to make informed decisions regarding health. Falls are a significant problem in older Americans and are negatively associated with quality of life and health. Current fall risk models are costly and expensive, and do not represent all reasons for falls. The purpose of this study was to investigate demographic and psychological well being variables to determine if they could improve the information provided from current fall risk models. This information could be used preventatively to reduce fall risk in older Americans. The study was a cross sectional, longitudinal survey design using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) database. The sample consists of over 11,000 Americans 65 and older and is generalizable to the older population within the United States. An association between demographic risk factors (age, marital status, gender, education, monthly expenditures) as well as psychological well being risk factors (positive attitude, loneliness, anxiety, activity level, depression and perceived health) was compared with the variables fall incidence, fall with injury and fall frequency in a population of Americans 65 and older. The sample was limited to those who were home dwelling in the contiguous 48 states. Several variables were significant in their association with fall incidence, fall with injury and fall frequency. The variables age, depression and anxiety were positively associated with fall incidence; fall with injury and fall frequency. The variables Black, and report of good perceived health were associated negatively with fall incidence, fall with injury and fall frequency. Other variables had mixed associations. Being male was negatively associated with fall incidence, and fall with injury but positively associated with fall frequency. Positive attitude was positively associated with falls but negatively associated with fall frequency. Being Hispanic was negatively associated and increased monthly expenditures were positively associated with fall frequency. The results of this study could be used to improve current fall risk models and may assist in providing preventative intervention for "at-risk" older Americans.