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Older people living at home: associations between falls and health complaints in men and women


Correspondence: Ann-Marie Rydholm Hedman, Senior Lecturer, Red Cross University College of Nursing, P.O. 55676, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: +46 8 587 516 54.



Aims and objectives

To investigate the associations between self-reported falls and health complaints, among persons aged 75 years and older living at home, and to investigate gender differences in the associations.


There are several studies concerned with risk factors for falling, and others related to health complaints, but not many with associations between falls and health complaints. There are some inconsistent data of incidence and gender-related differences in falling.


Case–control community-based study.


In total, 1243 persons living in two municipal districts in Sweden answered a questionnaire. Odds ratios (OR) and regression models with 95% confidence interval (CI) were used to determine the associations between self-reported falls and different health complaints.


The adjusted (multivariate) linear regression showed that urinary incontinence, self-rated health and tiredness were significantly associated with falls for both men and women living at home. The gender-related differences in falling were associated with the variables such as self-rated health for men and tiredness and pain in the hands, elbows, legs or knees for women.


An association is evident between falls and urinary incontinence, poor self-rated health and tiredness for older persons living at home. Gender differences in falls show an association with poor self-rated health, tiredness and pain in the hands, elbows, legs or knees.

Relevance to clinical practice

As older people are expected to live in their own homes as long as possible, more knowledge is required about what determines the risk of falling. Nurses in community care are recommended to use assessment tools that include urinary incontinence in order to detect the risk of falling.

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