Physical Function and Fear of Falling 2 Years After the Health-Promoting Randomized Controlled Trial: Elderly Persons in the Risk Zone

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Purpose of the study: To investigate the effects of 2 different health-promoting interventions on physical performance, fear of falling, and physical activity at 3-month, 1-year, and 2-year follow-ups of the study Elderly Persons in the Risk Zone. Design and Methods: A randomized, three-armed, single-blind, and controlled study in which 459 independent and community-dwelling people aged 80 years or older were included. A single preventive home visit including health-promoting information and advice and 4 weekly senior group meetings focused on health strategies and peer learning, with a follow-up home visit, were compared with control. Functional balance, walking speed, fear of falling, falls efficacy, and frequency of physical activities were measured 3 months, 1 year, and 2 years after baseline. Results: There were no or limited differences between the groups at the 3-month and 1-year follow-ups. At 2 years, the odds ratio for having a total score of 48 or more on the Berg Balance scale compared with control was 1.80 (confidence interval 1.11–2.90) for a preventive home visit and 1.96 (confidence interval 1.21–3.17) for the senior meetings. A significantly larger proportion of intervention participants than controls maintained walking speed and reported higher falls efficacy. At 1 and 2 years, a significantly higher proportion of intervention participants performed regular physical activities than control. Implications: Both a preventive home visit and senior meetings reduced the deterioration in functional balance, walking speed, and falls efficacy after 2 years. The long-term effects of both interventions indicate a positive impact on postponement of physical frailty among independent older people.

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