Good memory as a predictor of falls: fact or artefact

Kim Delbaere, Jacqueline C T Close, Nicole A. Kochan, Perminder S. Sachdev, Stephen R. Lord*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: accurate classification of older people into fallers and non-fallers is crucial for falls research, but largely dependent on the accuracy of fall reporting by the participants. Objective: to investigate the influence of memory in relation to fall reporting.Subjects: five hundred community-dwelling adults aged 70-90 years. Methods: memory and executive functioning were assessed using the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning and Trail Making test, respectively. Fall risk was estimated using the physiological profile assessment (PPA). Falls were recorded prospectively for 12 months using monthly falls diaries and follow-up phone calls as required. Results: Spearman correlations showed that falls were significantly correlated to worse executive functioning, worse PPA scores and better memory. People with better memory had an increased risk of being classified as single fallers and multiple fallers, but not when reported injuries were included as part of the definition. Conclusion: good memory appears to influence the recording of falls in community-dwelling older people and likely reflects a reporting bias. In research studies, there may be value in using a combination of injurious falls and multiple falls when classifying people into faller and non-faller groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberafs004
Pages (from-to)404-408
Number of pages5
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Accidental falls
  • Ageing
  • Elderly
  • Falls
  • Memory


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