Orientation and verbal fluency in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: modifiable risk factors for falls?

Toby O. Smith (Corresponding Author), Samuel R. Neal, Guy Peryer, Katie J. Sheehan, Tan Maw Pin, Phyo K. Myint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVES: To determine the relationship between falls and deficits in specific cognitive domains in older adults.
DESIGN: An analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) cohort
SETTING: United Kingdom Community-Based
PARTICIPANTS: 5197 community-dwelling older adults recruited to a prospective longitudinal cohort study.
MEASUREMENTS: Data on the occurrence of falls and number of falls which occurred during a 12-month follow-up period were assessed against the specific cognitive domains of memory, numeracy skills, and executive function. Binomial logistic regression was performed to evaluate the association between each cognitive domain and the dichotomous outcome of falls in the preceding 12 months using unadjusted and adjusted models.
RESULTS: Of the 5197 participants included in the analysis, 1308 (25%) reported a fall in the preceding 12 months. There was no significant association between the occurrence of a fall and specific forms of cognitive dysfunction after adjusting for self-reported hearing, selfreported eyesight and functional performance. After adjustment, only orientation (odds ratio (OR): 0.80; 95% confidence intervals (CI): 0.65-0.98, p=0.03) and verbal fluency (adjusted OR: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.96-1.00; p=0.05) remained significant for predicting recurrent falls.
CONCLUSIONS: The cognitive phenotype rather than cognitive impairment per se may predict future falls in those presenting with more than one fall.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1498
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number10
Early online date7 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

The ELSA was developed by researchers based at University Colleague London, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the National Centre for Social Research. Dr Smith was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical
Research Centre (BRC). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.


  • memory
  • executive function
  • cognitive skills
  • fall
  • injury
  • aged


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