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Aims : To identify risk factors for falls in older people with diabetes mellitus (DM) and to develop a low-cost fall risk screening tool. Methods : Older adults with DM (n = 103; age = 61.6 + 6.0 years) were recruited from diabetic clinics. Demographic, DM specific factors, lower limb strength and sensation, cognition, fear of falling, hand reaction time, balance, mobility and gait parameters were assessed using validated methods. Falls were prospectively recorded over six months. Results : Past falls and female gender were identified as significant predictors of falls: history of falls and female gender increased fall rates by 4.62 (95% CI = 2.31–9.27) and 2.40 (95% CI = 1.04–5.54) respectively. Fall rates were significantly associated with Diabetic Neuropathy scores, HbA1c level, contrast sensitivity, quadriceps strength, postural sway, tandem balance, stride length and Timed Up and Go Test times. A multi-variable fall risk tool derived using five measures, revealed that absolute risk for multiple falls increased from 0% in participants with zero or one factor to 83% in participants with all five risk factors. Conclusions : Simple screening items for fall risk in people with DM were identified, with parsimonious explanatory risk factors. These findings help guide tailored interventions for preventing falls in DM.

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