Objective: to determine whether depression is an important and independent predictor of falls in community-dwelling older people living in Taiwan.Design: longitudinal study.Setting: five randomly selected villages from Tainan city, Taiwan. Participants and methods: in total, 280 community-dwelling people not taking anti-depressant medication aged 65-91 years (mean age 74.9). Participants completed the Geriatric Depression Scale and underwent a range of sensorimotor, balance and mobility tasks and were then followed up for 2 years with monthly telephone calls to determine falls incidence.Results: of the 260 participants with complete follow-up data, 174 (66.9%) experienced no falls, 51 (19.6%) fell once and 35 (13.5%) fell two or more times. Depressive symptoms were significantly more prevalent in recurrent fallers (40.0%) and once-only fallers (27.5%) compared with non-fallers (16.1%). Negative binomial regression analysis identified depression, poor depth perception, reduced lower limb strength and increased sway as independent and significant predictors of falls.Conclusion: depressive symptoms were found to be common in older Taiwanese people and associated with an increased fall risk. These findings suggest that in addition to implementing approaches to maximise vision, strength and balance, fall prevention strategies should also include interventions to assess and treat depression.
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