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Study: Understanding seniors' risk of falling and their perception of risk, 2008 and 2009

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Released: 2014-10-01

About one in three seniors aged 65 and older (34%) surveyed in 2008 and 2009 were concerned about future falls. Falls can have serious consequences for the health of seniors. In 44% of cases, this concern led seniors to stop some activities that they had previously enjoyed. About 42% of women perceived a risk compared with about a quarter of men (24%). Older seniors, aged 85 and older, also had a higher perception of risk (46%) compared with younger seniors, aged 65 to 69 (26%).

Among seniors who perceived a risk, 29% had fallen in the year prior to the survey, 68% thought their health was poor, fair or good, and 71% had a diagnosis of three or more chronic conditions.

While 22% of seniors met the criteria for being at a high risk of a fall, most were at a low risk (78%). More women were at a high risk of a fall than men. Risk increased with age, with 46% of seniors aged 85 and older at a high risk of a fall, compared with 13% of seniors aged 65 to 69.

Comparing perceptions of risk with objective criteria for being at risk of a fall, 70% of seniors had an accurate perception of their risk of falling while 30% had an inaccurate perception. More seniors with inaccurate perceptions overestimated their risk (21%) than underestimated their risk (9%).

  Note to readers

This release presents data from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Healthy Aging. This survey focuses on the health of Canadians aged 45 and over, and collected information about the factors, influences and processes that contribute to healthy aging.

About 30,900 respondents aged 45 years of age and over living in the provinces were interviewed for the survey from December 2008 to November 2009.

Persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements, full-time members of the Canadian Forces, persons living in collective dwellings and the institutionalized population were excluded from the survey's coverage.

For more statistics and analysis on the health of Canadians and the health care system, visit the Health in Canada module of our website, under Features.

The article "Understanding seniors' risk of falling and their perception of risk" in Health at a Glance (Catalogue number82-624-X) is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

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