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Both deterioration and improvement in activities of daily living are related to falls: a 6-year follow-up of the general elderly population study Good Aging in Skåne

Authors Stenhagen M, Ekström H, Nordell E, Elmståhl S

Received 26 June 2014

Accepted for publication 29 July 2014

Published 28 October 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 1839—1846


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Magnus Stenhagen, Henrik Ekström, Eva Nordell, Sölve Elmståhl

Department of Health Sciences, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden

Objectives: To determine the relationship between long-term change in activities of daily living (ADL) and falls in the elderly and to identify characteristics of groups at risk for falls.
Methods: This was a 6-year, prospective cohort study using data from the Good Aging in Skåne study in southern Sweden, involving 1,540 elderly subjects, including the oldest-old (age, 60–93 years). The subjects were recruited from the general population. ADL was measured at a baseline and follow-up assessment, using Sonn and Åsberg’s revised scale and the ADL staircase. Falls were recorded in a period of 6 months before the follow-up assessment. The association between falls and change in ADL was calculated using adjusted, multiple logistic regression analysis and presented in odds ratios (ORs).
Results: Thirteen percent of the study population reported one or several falls in the measured period. Over the course of 6 years, one in four participants changed their ADL status, and parts of this category had an increased risk for falls compared with those who stayed independent in ADL or who had no change in the ADL staircase. Groups with different characteristics had a prominent risk for falls: those with a reduction of two to eight steps in the ADL staircase (OR, 4.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.62–10.11) and those becoming independent from dependency in instrumental ADL (OR, 4.13; 95% CI, 1.89–9.00). The former group had advanced age with a greater burden of cognitive impairment, gait disability, arrhythmia, and fall risk medications. The latter group had a higher prevalence of ischemic heart disease and low walking speed.
Conclusion: Both deterioration and improvement in ADL over the course of 6 years increased the risk for falls in a general elderly population. Interventional efforts may require different strategies, as groups with different characteristics were at risk. Those at risk with improved ADL function may have a history of sufficient burden of comorbidity combined with obtained mobility for exposure to a fall event.

Keywords: accidental falls, activities of daily living, prospective, elderly, general population

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