The risk factors for older individuals are different between indoor falls and outdoor falls. A new study performed by an affiliate of Harvard Medical School evaluates this difference and explains how this may affect the structural makeup of programs to help prevent falls.
Individuals at risk for falling indoors may not be the same people with a higher risk of falling outside. Combining the types of falls into the same category may decrease effectiveness of programs working to prevent falls.
Researchers discovered indoor falls are more related to an inactive lifestyle, poor health, and disabilities. Outdoor falls, on the other hand, can be associated with increased activity levels and good health.
Adults who fell outside were younger than those with falls inside, more male than female, and more educated. Individuals who experienced falls indoors noticed more physical disabilities and were on more medication.
For this study, 765 individuals over the age of 70, both men and women, were evaluated. They performed a falls assessment and then reported falls each month. Over the course of two years, 598 falls occurred inside and 524 falls happened outside. After a reported fall, the individual answered a series of questions to determine potential reasons for the fall.
Most programs assisting in fall prevention cater to indoor falls by working to increase strength and balance. Understanding the risk a person has for falling indoors or outdoors needs to be accounted for when developing a fall prevention program.
Considering health status and physical activity levels of older individuals may assist in determining which fall prevention is more beneficial for a person.
According to research, almost 40 percent of community-living seniors experience a fall every year. These falls can invoke hip fractures and brain injuries, and more than 50 percent of these falls happen outside.
The study appeared to be successful in learning causes of falls and aiding in the development of new fall prevention programs both indoors and outdoors.