Physical Activity as Prediction of Functional Ability among Elderly
Aim: Falling can have serious consequences for older persons, but fear of falling is also a current problem. The aim of the study is to assess the incidence of falls and fear of falling among older adults, as well as to study the connection of falls and fear of falling with functional ability, body mass index (BMI) and age.
Methods: The participants of this study are older persons ( > 60 years) who live in the city of Rijeka, are mobile and have no symptoms of dementia. The relationship between falls, fear of falling, body mass index (BMI) and functional ability was measured using various indicators. Assessment of physical functioning and pain relief was made using the COOP/WONCA questionnaire. Falls and fear of falling were assessed using questions with different response options.
Results: The results of the study showed that participants who reported experiencing fear of falling (FoF) had a higher BMI (p = 0.018) and did not feel physically healthy (70%). Participants who lived with a partner reported experiencing FoF at a lower rate (36.4%). The most frequently reported functional problems were visual problems (46.2%) and walking difficulties (40.0%).
Conclusions: A large percentage of older persons struggle with the effects of aging, which include various health problems that can increase the risk of falling and FoF. Prescription of physical activity and engaging in it could improve functional ability and have an important effect on healthy aging. This could be the starting point from which key stakeholders can plan different types of public health interventions, prescribing physical activity to maintain functional ability that enables well-being in old age.