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Patricia Grace
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Aging with Grace

Friday, September 10, 2010

Risks for falling are different based on location of the fall

Nearly 40 percent of seniors fall each year and at least half of the falls occur outdoors, but indoor and outdoor falls are different, U.S. researchers say.

"Indoor and outdoor falls are both important," senior author Marian T. Hannan, a senior scientist at the Institute for Aging Research, said. "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."

The study, published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, finds 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.

The researchers examined 765 men and women, age 70 and older, from randomly sampled households in Boston -- including a baseline falls assessment, a home visit and clinic examination. Falls were reported monthly. During a nearly two-year period, 598indoor falls and 524 outdoor falls were reported.

The study finds 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.

3 comments:

  1. Preventive exercise programs for fall prevention, the "balance clinics" are popular and make sense for seniors who want to do something about these scary statistics. As with most things, preventive action can reduce risk. Physical therapists and occupational therapists are excellent resources for information about fall prevention programs.

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  3. That is a very interesting study, and I agree with the author that it is important to differentiate those at risk for each type of fall. The descriptors of each group are very helpful in determining which type your loved one or patient might be at risk for. Once you have determined which is more likely, it can help us to decide how to make the environments safer for them. Thank you for sharing the study!

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