Falls among community-dwelling elderly people in selected districts of Umutara province, Republic of Rwanda: the role of the physiotherapist

  • Egide Ntagungira

Abstract

Introduction

Falls among elderly people have been identified as a significant and serious medical problem confronting a growing number of older people.

Aim

The purpose of the study was to identify the risk factors for falls among the community-dwelling  elders in the Umutara Province of Rwanda.

Method

A cross-sectional convenience survey using a self-administered questionnaire was used, with a sample of 200 elders, both male and female , aged 60 and older. Data was analyzed using SPSS. Chi-squares and Fisher's exact tests were used to test associations between variables.

Results

Nearly a quarter (23.2%) of the community-dwelling  elderly people had multiple falls in the previous year. Risk factors significantly associated with increased falling in the elderly included advanced age, gender, joint stiffness and lower extremity muscle weakness. Loss of balance and coordination, vision deficits , painful joints, multiple drug use and prolonged use of sedatives, and antidepressants were also potential risks of falling. Men fell more often than women. Men tended to suffer outdoor falls, while women were likely to sustain indoor falls.  Injury rates were also high: hip, lower back and ankle injuries were the most prevalent.

Conclusion

Potential  risk  factors  for  falls  include  characteristics  such  as:  physiological  changes (age), chronic  illnesses,  chronic medication and multiple drugs.

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