Institute for Health & Ageing

Anxiety and Falls

Anxiety and falls risk in older adults

shutterstock_128067971Approximately 30-40% of older adults (aged 65+) will experience a fall each year. A significant proportion of these result in a major injury or hospitalisation and other adverse outcomes such as withdrawal from social and physical activities, a reduced quality of life, and lower life satisfaction. The impact on health and social services, and the economic burden in general, is substantial.

Our recent meta-analysis demonstrated that increased anxiety symptoms are associated with a 53% increased risk of falls.  Meta-analyses have also found depressive symptoms to be associated with a 46% increased risk of falls among older adults.  Clinically-significant symptoms of depression and anxiety are common amongst older adults, and co-occur at rates estimated between 25-80%.

The proposed project aims to evaluate the novel use of transdiagnostic Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in older adults with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression on falls risk reduction. Despite the demonstrated associations between anxiety and depressive symptoms and falls, in conjunction with a range of plausible pathways through which they might increase the risk of falls, to date no studies have examined CBT for anxiety and depression for the purpose of reducing falls risk. This novel pilot project will assess the potential beneficial impact of a CBT intervention on a diverse range of falls risk indicators in areas of physiology, cognitive functioning, psychopathology, and physical activity.