Association between falls and cognitive performance among community-dwelling older people: a cross-sectional study


Sao Paulo Medical Journal




ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Falls among older people have a negative impact on health and therefore constitute a public health problem. Cognitive decline can also accompany the aging process, and both conditions lead to significant increases in morbidity and mortality in this population. Objective: To analyze the cognitive performance of older people, classified as non-fallers, sporadic fallers and recurrent fallers, and investigate the relationship between falls and cognition. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional study conducted in the interior of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. METHODS: Evaluations on 230 older people were conducted. They were divided into three groups: non-fallers, sporadic fallers (one fall) and recurrent fallers (two or more falls). The Mini-Mental State Examination, Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD), Brief Cognitive Screening Battery (BCSB), Cambridge Examination for Mental Disorders of the Elderly (CAMDEX) similarities subtest and digit span test were applied. RESULTS: In multinomial logistic regression, being a recurrent faller was significantly associated with lower scores in the CERAD word list (odds ratio, OR = 0.92; 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.86-0.98; P = 0.01), in CERAD constructive praxis (OR = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.79-0.98; P = 0.02), in BCSB figure list memory (OR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.89-0.99; P = 0.02) and in verbal fluency (OR = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.97; P = 0.01). Recurrent fallers also had lower scores in these same tests, compared with sporadic fallers. CONCLUSION: Cognitive impairment, especially in the domains of memory and executive functioning, can influence occurrences of recurrent falls.

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