Fall Hazards Within Senior Independent Living: A Case-Control Study

HERD. 2018 Oct;11(4):65-81. doi: 10.1177/1937586717754185. Epub 2018 Feb 8.


Aim:: The main purpose of this research was to identify significant relationships between environmental hazards and older adults' falling.

Background:: Falls can present a major health risk to older persons. Identifying potential environmental hazards that increase fall risks can be effective for developing fall prevention strategies that can create safer residential environments for older adults.

Methods:: The research included a retrospective analysis of 449 fall incident reports in two case-control buildings. In the homes of 88 older adults residing in independent living, an observational study was conducted to identify environmental hazards using two assessment tools including Westmead Home Safety Assessment (WeHSA) and resident interviews.

Results:: A fall history analysis indicated that falls occurred in the bathroom were significantly associated with hospitalization. The observational study revealed that the bathroom was the most common place for environmental hazards. The research showed, with increasing age and use of mobility assistive aids, there was a corresponding increase in the total number of environmental hazards. Home hazards were significantly and independently associated with the incidence rate of falls. In other words, the high fall rate building included more environmental hazards compared to the low fall rate building while controlling for residents' age and mobility.

Conclusion:: The current study provides empirical evidence of the link between environmental hazards and older adults' falling, which is useful for developing effective fall intervention design strategies.

Keywords: case-control study; environment of care; fall hazards; long-term care facilities.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Independent Living / standards*
  • Interior Design and Furnishings*
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Toilet Facilities