Older people’s experiences of falling outdoors: Challenging the person-environment fit.

This source preferred by Samuel Nyman

Authors: Phillips, J., Ballinger, C., Newton, R. and Nyman, S.R.

Start date: 1 September 2014

This presentation draws on findings from a qualitative study exploring older people's experiences and perceptions of outdoor falls, with a particular focus on the outdoor environments in which they have fallen. Nine focus groups were conducted with a total of 44 participants across the UK in England, Wales and Scotland. Participants were 65 and over, had an outdoor fall within the past 12 months, and were cognitively intact. Two major themes will be highlighted in the paper: 1) Risks of Falls: participants views on the risk factors for outdoor falls, including personal characteristics, hazardous features of the environment, or a hazardous interaction between the person and their environment. 2) Suggested Improvements: participants made suggestions that both they themselves and those in charge of maintaining the outdoor environment made to prevent further falls. Our paper will contextualize and critique the findings within a person-environment framework. The P-E framework has been used extensively in environmental gerontology and has been extended to include person-environment-activity. However this paper highlights the limitations of this framework; it also suggests that more attention should be paid by urban planners on the interaction between the environment and older person, the severe consequences of outdoor falls and how outdoor environments can be made safer.

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