Understanding the limited self-awareness of elderly patients has the potential to help identify patients with greater risk of falling and design strategies to prevent falls. A new prospective cross-sectional study involved older adult rehabilitation patients and their physiotherapists to measure aspects of self-awareness. The 91 inpatients in the study had a mean age of 77.97±8.04 years.
The Self-awareness of Falls Risk Measure quantified three aspects of self-awareness: intellectual, emergent, and anticipatory. The Mini-Mental State Examination, the Functional Independence Measure, and the Timed Up and Go test provided medical, cognitive, and functional status information for each patient. Researchers found that a total of 31% to 63% of the patients underestimated their risk of falling, while only 3% to 10% overestimated fall risk. Male gender, higher educational attainment, neurologic history, lower cognitive ability, and lower functional status were linked to different individual aspects of reduced self-awareness. Regression analysis revealed a link between overall self-awareness and gender, education, and neurologic history.
The results demonstrated that elderly patients underestimated their risk of falling in a rehabilitation setting, and revealed specific risk factors that may increase this risk. Greater understanding of specific risk factors might be used to increase awareness and patient engagement in preventing inpatient falls.
Mihalijcic T, Haines TP, Ponsford JL, Stolwyk RJ. Self-awareness of falls risk among elderly patients: characterizing awareness deficits and exploring associated factors. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015;96(12):2145-2152. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2015.08.414.