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, is currently available online at www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TFWS.
"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.
Founded in 1903, Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization devoted to innovative research, health care, education and housing that improves the lives of seniors.
Scott Edwards | EurekAlert!
Drought hits rivers first and more strongly than agriculture
06.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise
23.08.2018 | European Geosciences Union
The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.
This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.
Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...
Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.
"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...
A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.
Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...
Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.
An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...
21.09.2018 | Event News
03.09.2018 | Event News
27.08.2018 | Event News
21.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2018 | Life Sciences
21.09.2018 | Event News