Study shows seniors have altered perceptions of fall risk

Bryan Aldrige

September 14, 2011

Seniors who fear falling are at an increased risk of falling, regardless of their actual abilities to be mobile, KPAX 8 reports.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that those consumed by fear tend to fall more than those who are confident moving around.

Researchers studied 500 people between the ages of 70 and 90 by having them undergo extensive medical and neuropsychological testing. Scientists then estimated each participants actual and perceived fall risks and then followed-up on them every month for a year.

The study found that most people in the study had an accurate perception of their fall risk, but one third of seniors either underestimated or overestimated their risk of falling.

Those in the more "anxious" group were found to have a low actual fall risk, though they perceived their risk as very high. According to lead researcher Stephen Lord, these were commonly attributed to neurotic personality traits, symptoms of depression or poor physical functioning.

Those in the "stoic" group had high actual fall risks but low perceived risks which were attributed to a positive outlook on life, a higher level of physical activity and participating within the community. Researchers also stated that their attitudes help to protect the group from falls because they simply believe they're not going to sustain a fall.

If a senior has fallen once, they may fall again. Installing a medical alert system to a senior's home is a safe and easy way to give them peace of mind in case of an emergency.