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New TILDA Research Brief - The Links between Fear of Falling, Visual Impairment and Mobility

Research lead by Dr. Orna Donoghue of TILDA shows that older adults with poor self-rated vision were more likely to report fear of falling and fear-related activity restriction.

A new Research Brief released by TILDA today (10th Dec. 2014) details the findings from two TILDA papers previously published; examining whether fear of falling affects walking patterns ansd if visual impairment is associated with fear of falling, and if so, how does this affect mobility in people with fear of falling. Data from the first wave of TILDA was used, providing a unique opportunity to examine fear of falling and mobility in a nationally representative sample of community-dwelling older Irish adults. These papers focus on those aged 65 and over - the group most at risk for falls and disability.

The findings in this Research Brief have important implications for policymakers and practitioners:

  • Clinicians need to recognise fear of falling and manage it before it leads to activity restriction.
  • Clinicians should assess walking ability in older adults with fear of falling and provide guidance on appropriate exercise interventions that improve physical function including walking.
  • A comprehensive vision assessment should be included for older adults, especially those who have reported fear of falling. Appropriate prescription of visual aids is encouraged along with advice on environmental adaptations to improve visual function especially in low light and poor contrast conditions.

Link: Research Brief