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Fear of falling and associated activity restriction in older people. results of a cross-sectional study conducted in a Belgian town

DOI: 10.1186/0778-7367-70-1

Keywords: Accidental falls, activity restriction, aged, aged 80 and over, fear of falling

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Abstract:

Cross-sectional survey conducted in Fontaine l'Evêque (Belgium) in 2006, using a self-administered questionnaire.The participants could fill in the questionnaire on their own or with the help of a third party if needed. The latter were not taken into account in this article. Analyses covered 419 questionnaires. Fear of falling and activity restriction were reported by, respectively, 59.1% and 33.2% of participants. They were more frequent among fallers but also affected non-fallers. In logistic regression analyses: gender, the fact of living alone and the number of falls were significantly associated with fear of falling; gender, age and the number of falls were significantly associated with activity restriction.Our study, despite various limitations, shows the importance of fear of falling and of subsequent activity restriction among older people, among fallers as well as among non-fallers. It also provides information, though limited, concerning persons affected by these two issues in Belgium, and in other contexts as well. Given the ageing of our populations, it is important to take these problems into account when caring for older people.Older people currently represent a significant proportion of European [1] and Belgian [2] populations. According to various prospective studies reviewed by Rubenstein and Josephson [3], 30 to 60% of community-dwelling older people sustain a fall each year, about half of them falling several times. Besides the important physical repercussions that falls can sometimes have [3], it seems that they may also cause psychological difficulties for many older people [4]. Among these difficulties, we notably find fear of falling and activity avoidance [4].According to the results of several studies, one can estimate that between 20.8 and 57% [5-10] of non-institutionalised people aged 62 years and over feel this fear. In two different studies, activity restriction affects, respectively, 37.9 [10] and 43% [5] of non-institutionalised older

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