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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2010 Jun;22(3):212-8. doi: 10.3275/6705. Epub 2009 Nov 27.

Vulnerability in high-functioning persons aged 65 to 70 years: the importance of the fear factor.

Author information

1
Service of Geriatric Medicine and Geriatric Rehabilitation, University of Lausanne Hospital Center, Lausanne, Switzerland. Laurence.Seematter-Bagnoud@chuv.ch

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Falls efficacy has been shown to predict functional decline, but whether it is independently associated with frailty is still unclear. This study investigated the cross-sectional association between falls efficacy and the frailty phenotype in high-functioning older persons.

METHODS:

Subjects (n=861) were a sub-sample of community-dwelling persons aged 65 to 70 years enrolled in the "Lc65+" cohort, who had gait assessment. Data included demographics, functional, cognitive, affective and health status, as well as measures of physical performance. Falls efficacy was measured with the Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I) and frailty with Fried's criteria. Participants were categorized into robust (no frailty criterion) and vulnerable (1 or more criteria). Low falls efficacy was defined as a FES-I score in the lowest quartile.

RESULTS:

Overall, 23.9% of participants were vulnerable. Compared with robust participants, they were more likely to report low falls efficacy (43.3% vs 19.1%, p<0.001) and had poorer health and functional and mental status. They had slower gait speed (1.07+/-0.18 vs 1.15+/-0.15 m/s, p<0.001) and increased gait speed variability (coefficient of variation 4.10+/-4.03 vs 3.33+/-1.45%, p<0.001), although only 6 participants (0.7%) fulfilled Fried's slow walking criterion. In multivariate analysis, low falls efficacy remained associated with being vulnerable (adjusted OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.19-2.74, p=0.006), independent of comorbidity, functional status, falls history and gait performance.

CONCLUSION:

In high-functioning older persons, low falls efficacy was associated with vulnerability, even after controlling for gait performance and falls history. Whether low falls efficacy is a potential target on the pathway leading to frailty should be further examined prospectively.

PMID:
19966536
DOI:
10.3275/6705
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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