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Keywords:

  • community-dwelling elderly;
  • falls;
  • Hokkaido;
  • survey

Background:  Although the circumstances surrounding falls among community-dwelling elderly people have been described by numerous studies, there are few that have reported falls in the northern regions of Japan, such as Hokkaido, that experience a severe winter with heavy snow. As a preliminary study, we surveyed the circumstances of falls among community-dwelling elderly people in Hokkaido with a self-administered questionnaire.

Methods:  Residents living in private homes throughout Hokkaido were randomly contacted by telephone and those aged over 65 years were recruited for this study. In all, 1000 subjects participated in the survey. A questionnaire was used to obtain the histories of falls, including the number of falls, the season and place of occurrence, and the cause of the falls in the year prior to the survey.

Results:  Of the 1000 subjects, 849 (436 men and 413 women; mean age, 73.0 years) completed the questionnaire. Among the 849 subjects, 277 (32.6%) fell at least once during the year of the survey. Of these 277 subjects, 155 subjects (56.0%) experienced two or more falls in the year. Approximately 60% of the falls occurred during the winter. The most common location where falls occurred was on roads or sidewalks, and slipping was the most prevalent cause.

Conclusion:  Our findings revealed several aspects regarding the circumstances surrounding falls among community-dwelling elderly people in Hokkaido.