Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Indoor and outdoor fall risks are different for the elderly, study finds

Date:
September 8, 2010
Source:
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
Summary:
The risk factors for indoor and outdoor falls are different, according to a new study -- a fact that is often missed when the two are combined and may affect how falls prevention programs are structured.

The risk factors for indoor and outdoor falls for older adults are different, according to a new study by the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, a fact that is often missed when the two are combined and may affect how falls prevention programs are structured.

"Indoor and outdoor falls are both important," says senior author Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc., a senior scientist at the Institute for Aging Research, "but people at high risk for indoor falls are different in many ways from those at high risk of outdoor falls. Failure to separate the two can mask important information on risk factors and may hamper the effectiveness of falls prevention programs."

Published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the study found that indoor falls are associated with an inactive lifestyle, disability, and poor health, while outdoor falls are associated with higher levels of activity and average or better-than-average health.

Older adults who fell outdoors were somewhat younger than those who fell indoors, more likely to be male and better educated, and had lifestyle characteristics indicative of better health. Those who fell indoors had more physical disabilities, took more medications, and had lower cognitive function than those who fell outdoors.

The study examined 765 men and women, age 70 and older, from randomly sampled households in the Boston area. Study participants underwent a comprehensive baseline falls assessment, including a home visit and clinic examination. Falls were reported on monthly calendars submitted to the researchers. Over a nearly two-year period, 598 indoor falls and 524 outdoor falls were reported. When a participant reported a fall, a structured telephone interview was conducted to determine the circumstances.

Dr. Hannan says the study has several implications. First, a fall is not necessarily a marker of poor health. In fact, almost half of all falls occurred outdoors, and people who fell outdoors had the same or better health than those who did not fall at all. Second, epidemiological studies of risk factors for falls in older people may be hampered when falls are combined, with important associations between risk factors and indoor and outdoor falls potentially being missed. Third, intervention programs need to be tailored differently for people more likely to fall outdoors than those who tend to fall indoors.

"Most fall prevention programs emphasize the prevention of indoor falls, particularly through strength, balance and gait training; use of assistive devices; treatment of medical conditions; reduction in the use of certain medications; improvement in vision; and the elimination of home hazards," write Dr. Hannan and her colleagues.

Many of these programs do not take into account the causes of outdoor falls, she says. Falls interventions for community-dwelling seniors, she adds, should consider their health status, activity level, and other characteristics. Most seniors who fall outdoors do so on sidewalks, streets or curbs, or in parking lots.

"Healthy, active older people should be aware of their surroundings, especially when walking outdoors," says Dr. Hannan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "More attention needs to be paid to the elimination of outdoor environmental hazards involving sidewalks, curbs and streets, such as repairing uneven surfaces, removing debris, installing ramps at intersections, and painting curbs."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of seniors who live in the community fall each year, with many suffering moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. At least half of these falls occur outdoors.

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 the 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.


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. "Indoor and outdoor fall risks are different for the elderly, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908074307.htm>.
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. (2010, September 8). Indoor and outdoor fall risks are different for the elderly, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908074307.htm
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research. "Indoor and outdoor fall risks are different for the elderly, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908074307.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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