Age and rurality in relation to fall profiles among community-dwelling Canadian adults


Falls are a leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations among Canadians. Fall risk has been reported to be increased in older adults and with certain health conditions. It is not well understood whether rurality is a risk factor for falls. The aim of this study was to investigate 1) fall profiles by age group and 2) compare falls profiles of adults, by age group, living in rural versus urban areas of Canada.


Cross-sectional data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) were analyzed. Adults aged 45 to 85 years (N = 51,338) were included in the analysis. Self-reported falls within a twelve-month period occurred in 4.8% (single fall) and 0.8% (multiple falls) of adults. Rural residence and age were not related to falls. Memory impairment, multiple sclerosis, as well as other chronic conditions such as mood disorder, anxiety disorder, and hyperthyroidism, were more likely to fall. Older individuals were more likely to fall indoors or fall while standing or walking, whereas middle-aged individuals were more likely to fall outdoors or while exercising. Older individuals were more likely to report hospitalization after a fall.


The study findings show that falls occur with a similar frequency in individuals regardless of age or rurality. Fall location and activity were associated with age. A more universally applicable, multifaceted approach, rather than one solely based on older age considerations, to screening, primary prevention, and management may reduce the personal, social, and economic burden of falls and fall-related injuries.

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