LONDON — The fear of falling may be enough to make elderly people more likely to fall, regardless of their actual risk, a new study says.
Australian and Belgian researchers followed 500 men and women, aged 70 to 90, for one year. They split the participants into various groups depending on their perceived and actual risks for falling. While most people had a fairly accurate sense of their chances of falling, about one-third either underestimated or overestimated their risk.
Among the people who were most afraid of falling, nearly 40 percent fell at least once within a year, even though they were rated to have a low actual risk of falling based on their physical health. The study was published online Friday in the medical journal, BMJ.
The authors said doctors should take patients' fears of falling into consideration when recommending what might help in preventing future injuries.