The findings from this research will come as no surprise but it is nevertheless a healthy reminder of something that we perhaps often take for granted - many older people do not know that they are at risk of falls. What's more, it's not just us professionals who need clarification on what constitutes evidence-based falls prevention.
“Better for others than for me”: A belief that should shape our efforts to promote participation in falls prevention strategies
Background: Falls are a common occurrence amongst older adults yet participation in prevention strategies is often poor. Although older adults may perceive a strategy works in general, they may not participate because they feel it will not benefit them personally.
Objective: To describe how frequently and why older adults identify falls prevention strategies as being “better for others than for me”.
Method: A cross-sectional survey with n = 394 community-dwelling older adults in Victoria, Australia was undertaken. Participants were provided with detailed descriptions of four evidence-based falls prevention strategies and for each were asked whether they felt that the strategy would be effective in preventing falls for people like them, and then whether they felt that the strategy would be effective for preventing falls for them personally. Follow-up questions asked why they thought the strategy would be more effective for people like them than for them personally where this was the case.
Results: The “better for others than for me” perception was present for between 25% and 34% of the strategies investigated. Participants commonly said they felt this way because they did not think they were at risk of falls, and because they were doing other activities they thought would provide equivalent benefit.
Conclusion: Strategies to promote participation in evidence-based falls prevention strategies may need to convince older adults that they are at risk of falls and that what activities they are already doing may not provide adequate protection against falls in order to have greater effect.