Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Going barefoot in home may contribute to elderly falls

Date:
June 23, 2010
Source:
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
Summary:
Going barefoot in the home, wearing slippers, or socks with no shoes may contribute falls among the elderly.

As summer rolls around, elderly people may want to think twice about taking their shoes off when they get home. Going barefoot in the home, or wearing slippers or socks with no shoes, may contribute to falls among the elderly, according to a new study from the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife.

The study found that nearly 52 percent of the participants who reported a fall were either barefoot, wearing socks without shoes, or wearing slippers at the time of their fall. These people also reported more serious injuries, including fractures, sprains, dislocations, and pulled or torn muscles, ligaments or tendons, as a result of their fall.

"Our findings show that older people going barefoot, wearing only socks, or wearing slippers may be at considerably increased risk of falls in their homes," says senior author Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc., M.P.H., co-director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center at the Institute for Aging Research. "Therefore, older people should wear shoes at home whenever possible to minimize their risk of falling."

Study participants underwent a comprehensive baseline falls assessment, including a home visit and clinic examination. During the assessment, they were asked what type of shoe they usually wear. Options included athletic shoes (sneakers), flat-sole canvas shoes, oxfords or other tied shoes, loafers, sandals, pumps, slippers, socks or stockings only, or barefoot. Participants were followed for an average of 27.5 months and were asked to record each day whether they had fallen; those reporting falls were asked about the shoes they were wearing when they fell.

Of those who reported falling, more than 18 percent were barefoot when they fell. Nearly 27 percent were wearing slippers and 7 percent were wearing socks only.

The study, which will be published in the summer issue of the journal Footwear Science.

"On the basis of this and other studies," says Dr. Hannan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, "we suggest that advice about wearing shoes whenever possible be included in fall prevention programs. More research is needed on the design of acceptable and comfortable footwear that provides optimal safety for older people."

Prevention of falls among older adults is a major clinical and public health concern. Previous studies have shown that more than 20 percent of elderly people do not wear shoes around the home. For those who did, slippers were by far the most common shoe type. Studies also show that fall risk is markedly increased when older people are barefoot or in stocking feet, while others report that balance is adversely affected when people are barefoot.

"Recommendations such as wearing well-fitting, low-heeled shoes with slip-resistant soles seem sensible," says Dr. Hannan, "but there is only limited data to support this advice. Designing an optimal shoe type for seniors will need to take into account such issues as foot problems and the ease of putting them on and taking them off. "

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, was part of MOBILIZE Boston (Maintenance of Balance, Independent Living, Intellect and Zest in the Elderly), a long-term cohort study based at the Institute for Aging Research. The study is determining causes of falls in older adults in order to develop new ways to prevent falls from occurring. MOBILIZE Boston is directed by principal investigator Lewis A. Lipsitz, M.D., director of the Institute for Aging Research, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a leading authority on falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Thirty percent of these individuals suffer moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Experts say that many falls are due to preventable factors such as muscle weakness, improper footwear, and medications.

Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous medical and social studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. "Going barefoot in home may contribute to elderly falls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623085516.htm>.
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. (2010, June 23). Going barefoot in home may contribute to elderly falls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623085516.htm
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. "Going barefoot in home may contribute to elderly falls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100623085516.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins