Background: There are indications that older adults who suffer from poor balance have an increased risk for adverse health outcomes, such as falls and disability. Monitoring the development of balance over time enables early detection of balance decline, which can identify older adults who could benefit from interventions aimed at prevention of these adverse outcomes. An innovative and easy-to-use device that can be used by older adults for home-based monitoring of balance is a modified bathroom scale. Objective: The objective of this paper is to study the relationship between balance scores obtained with a modified bathroom scale and falls and disability in a sample of older adults.
Methods: For this 6-month follow-up study, participants were recruited via physiotherapists working in a nursing home,
geriatricians, exercise classes, and at an event about health for older adults. Inclusion criteria were being aged 65 years or older, being able to stand on a bathroom scale independently, and able to provide informed consent. A total of 41 nursing home patients and 139 community-dwelling older adults stepped onto the modified bathroom scale three consecutive times at baseline to measure their balance. Their mean balance scores on a scale from 0 to 16 were calculated—higher scores indicated better balance. Questionnaires were used to study falls and disability at baseline and after 6 months of follow-up. The cross-sectional relationship between balance and falls and disability at baseline was studied using t tests and Spearman rank correlations. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to study the relationship between balance measured at baseline and falls and disability development after 6 months of follow-up.