Indoor/outdoor Falls Different in Elderly

BOSTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) — 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, 598 indoor 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.

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