Background: falls rates in older people continue to rise despite concerted efforts to manage falls risks. As more effective strategies to reduce falls in older people may arise from better understanding their perspectives on falls risk, this study aimed to explore perceptions and behavioural decisions that may affect risk of falling among older people living in regional Australia.
Method: this qualitative research, informed by hermeneutics, explored older people's perspectives on decisions they made that could affect their falls risk. The study involved 26 participants (21 females) aged 65-84 years, residing in regional Australia. In total, 13 participated in semi-structured focus groups and 13 in semi-structured, in-depth interviews.
Results: six key themes illuminated the challenges older people faced in relation to falls risk. These were: the role that independence played in decision making regarding risk; the influence of previous falls experience; older people's level of understanding of risks; ability and willingness to engage with support; the need or desire to cover up a fall history; and the influence of finances in managing risk. Older people's accounts demonstrated they experienced competing influences that impacted upon decisions they made with respect to falls risks. Most significantly, the complex interplay of these influences drove the decisions older people made, sometimes placing them at greater risk of falling.
Conclusion: consideration of the multifaceted issues older people face when managing falls risk, and the influence these factors have on their behaviours, is vital to successfully reducing rates of fall related injuries in this population.