There are 40.3 million people in the United States aged 65 and older. This is a drastic change from two decades ago when only 3.1 million Americans were older than 65 years of age. In 2010, over 38% of individuals over the age of 65 reported one or more disabilities including difficulties with walking, climbing stairs, and an inability to do regular errands alone. The older adults’ bodies may not always respond in a manner they expect, making them more susceptible to falls and injury. The result is a decrease in balance self-efficacy, which then affects their willingness to participate in exercise and social gatherings. Social isolation subsequently leads to depression and decreased quality of life.
Methods: One-group pretest-posttest design. Approved by the IRB at Universityof Texas at Arlington. Convenience sample was used, recruited from the community. Power analysis required sample size = 64, total of 78 participatnts were recruited for the study. Participants enganged in 15-week exercise program that incorporated balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility training. Instruments used: Balance Self-efficacy Scale, EquiTest® computerized system (neurocom), Comprehensive Fall Risk Screening Instrument, and the Promis 29.
Results: Preliminary results: 78 total participants in the study. Ages ranged from 60 years to 89 years. 74% were female, over 60% had at least a bachelors degree. 89% were caucasian. Comorbid medical diagnoses such as Arthritis (62%), diabetes (9%), hypertention (14%), thyroid problems (15%),cardiovascular prolems (11%), and cancers (21%). 90% of participants use assistive devices, and 50% report falling within last 3 years. 46% use more than 4 prescription medications daily. Balance self-efficacy did not differ based on age, gender, ethnicity, pain interferance, physical function, low back pain, or educational level. However, depression (p = 0.044) and anxiety/fear (p = 0.025) significantly predicted balance self-efficacy.
Conclusion: Depression and anxiety often go untreated in older adults. However, from this study, they are significantly related to balaance self-efficacy. Finding ways to treat depression and anxiety in this population is imperative in order to foster social and community engagement in this population.