Older adults, falls and technologies for independent living: a life space approach

Cathy Bailey, Timothy Foran, Cliodhna Scanaill, Ben Dromey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


This paper draws attention to the need for further understanding of the fine details of routine and taken-for-granted daily activities and mobility. It argues that such understanding is critical if technologies designed to mitigate the negative impacts of falls and fear-of-falling are to provide unobtrusive support for independent living. The reported research was part of a large, multidisciplinary, multi-site research programme into responses to population ageing in Ireland, Technologies for Independent Living (TRIL). A small, exploratory, qualitative life-space diary study was conducted. Working with eight community-dwelling older adults with different experiences of falls or of fear-of-falls, data were collected through weekly life-space diaries, daily-activity logs, two-dimensional house plans and a pedometer. For some participants, self-recording of their daily activities and movements revealed routine, potentially risky behaviour about which they had been unaware, which may have implications for falls-prevention advice. The findings are presented and discussed around four key themes: ‘being pragmatic’, ‘not just a faller’, ‘heightened awareness and blind spots’ and ‘working with technology’. The findings suggest a need to think creatively about how technological and other solutions best fit with people's everyday challenges and needs and of critical importance, that their installation does not reduce an older adult to ‘just a faller’ or a person with a fear-of-falls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-848
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Older adults, falls and technologies for independent living: a life space approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this