Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Helping the Elderly Avoid Falls

Study on Risk Factors for Indoor and Outdoor Falls May Help Tailor Fall-Prevention Strategies
By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 8, 2010 -- The risk factors for indoor and outdoor falls among the elderly differ, and not all falls indicate poor health, a study shows.

Researchers found that risk factors for indoor falls include being a woman and having an inactive lifestyle. Risk factors for outdoor falls include being a man and being more physically active.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Falls among the elderly are common, with as many as 40% of people age 65 and older falling each year. Falls can lead to serious injuries, such as a fractured hip or concussion.

While a great deal of attention has been paid to indoor falls, little is known about the risk factors for outdoors falls, which are also common. According to the study researchers, almost 50% of falls among older people occur outdoors.

The study may help health care providers better tailor prevention strategies that help the elderly avoid falling.

Researchers led by Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH, a senior scientist at the Institute of Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined older adults who were randomly selected from households in the Boston area. The participants provided information on any falls that occurred over a two-year period and also underwent physical examinations.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Falls

Hannan and her colleagues found that:

  • Risk factors for indoor falls included being female, older age, inactive lifestyle, disability, having lower cognitive function, taking more medications, and overall poorer health.
  • Risk factors for outdoor falls included being male, being younger and more physically active, having more education, and having average or better-than-average health.
  • Among all the falls that were recorded, 9.5% resulted in serious injury, including 10.2% of indoor falls and 9% of outdoor falls.
  • The majority of outdoor falls occurred on hard concrete surfaces, including sidewalks, streets, curbs, outdoors stairs, and parking lots. Fourteen percent of outdoor falls occurred in yards or gardens.

The study participants included 765 men and women, ranging in age from 64 to 97; 36% were male and 64% were female.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
fast healthy snack ideas
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing