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Gerontology. 2012;58(5):413-8. doi: 10.1159/000336988. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

A lower prevalence of self-reported fear of falling is associated with memory decline among older adults.

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Section for Health Promotion, Department of Health and Medical Care, Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu, Japan.



In spite of a number of reports about various factors associated with the fear of falling (FoF) among older adults (such as age and physical function), the relationship between FoF and cognitive decline remains unclear.


To determine which cognitive function is related with the prevalence of FoF in older adults.


Participants were 101 older adults (mean age 75.1 years; 48.5% males). Of these, 54 older adults (53.4%) were classified as the fear group on the basis of the presence of FoF. Age, gender, the Timed Up and Go test (TUG), fall history, the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale, the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised-Logical Memory I (WMS-LM I), the delayed memory test, digit symbol coding, digit span and verbal fluency were measured as potential relevant factors.


Logistic regression analysis revealed that TUG [odds ratio (OR) 1.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12-1.83; p = 0.004], WMS-LM I (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.07-1.35; p = 0.002) and fall history (OR 4.38, 95% CI 1.53-12.51; p = 0.006) were independently associated with FoF.


The results suggest that a lower prevalence of self-reported FoF is associated with memory decline among older adults. Insensitivity to FoF may be one of the characteristics of psychological change with memory decline.

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