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Elderly more likely to fall in the dark: Swedish study

David Landes · 26 Jul 2011, 14:54

Published: 26 Jul 2011 14:54 GMT+02:00

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According to new research from Luleå Technical University (LTU) in northern Sweden, people over the age of 65 to fall in their homes when it is dark outside.

"What's interesting with the result regarding the number of falls tied to the amount of daylight is that no other research has shown the connection before," researcher Irene Vikman said in a statement.

"It was an unexpected discovery."

The study found elderly people who utilise Sweden's home care services (hemtjänst) suffered accidental falls at a rate of 626 per 1,000 per year.

Falls are most common among people who have severe physical disabilities and require greater assistance to carry out the tasks of daily life.

The study also showed that the frequency of falls varied from month to month in a pattern which could be explained in large part by the average length of daylight for the respective months.

The shorter the days, the more falls were reported, according to the study.

While the connection between falls and daylight found in the study is new, further research is needed to better understand exactly what mechanism may lie behind the increased number of falls.

Story continues below…

"Is it the case that the length of the days affects biological rhythms which in turn could also affect the precision of one's motor control?" said Vikman.

While the explanation may simply be that people have insufficient lighting in their homes, it's also possible that the trend may be related to variations in the levels of certain hormones such as melatonin, which affects human's circadian rhythms.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:00 July 26, 2011 by Mb 65
How did they figure that one out.. Unexpected discovery where do these people come from.
18:00 July 26, 2011 by redfish
"While the explanation may simply be that people have insufficient lighting in their homes..."

Which means, getting rid of incandescent bulbs leads to more deaths.
21:46 July 26, 2011 by jacquelinee
"The study found elderly people who utilise Sweden's home care services (hemtjänst) suffered accidental falls at a rate of 626 per 1,000 per year"

If the "Home Care" was anything like the care the elderly receive in care facilities in Sweden (as witnessed in Norrköping) Dark or light out, maybe these falls are no accident.
22:04 July 26, 2011 by swedejane
Next they're going to tell us that more old people die than younger people...geez.
08:09 July 27, 2011 by Luke R D
The Swedes seem to be the kings of pointless, "three-year-olds-could-have-told-you-that' studies, then print them off as news. Yet more evidence that the Swedish model of Socialism has completely removed common sense from these people...among other things, such as empathy.
10:56 July 27, 2011 by Maggie Malay
Absolutely mind-boggling, 'well-slap-my-thigh' research
14:56 July 27, 2011 by andyron2
@swedejane lol...yes some research must be going on right now which will comeup with astounding facts."Elderly people more likely to die earlier than teenagers and its an unexpected discovery".

Cant figure out why is it always "more likely" even on such research.
22:30 July 29, 2011 by johnny1939
and how much booze have these people been drinking?
22:31 July 29, 2011 by Stuart Parsons
After a lifetime of unpaid research, I can assure every one that old people are more likely, than young or middle aged persons, to suffer injury, when walking in unlit or poorly lit areas and even in broad daylight; when going up or comming down stairs or steps; if they fall off a ladde; trip over the edge of a carpet; walk into an open cupboard door; slip when getting out of a bath; get drunk, receive a blow to the head etc etc etc. Which university is going to award me a Doctorate ?
20:08 September 16, 2011 by JulieLou40
What next-"revelations" like more ice-cream being sold in summer?
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