What is so important about seniors falling?
Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. Seniors falling is a public health problem. Fortunately, it is largely preventable.
Just how big of a problem is it?
- One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half of seniors talk to their healthcare providers about their falls.
- Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls—adjusted for inflation—was $30.0 billion.
Who is at risk?
- People age 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
- Rates of fall-related fractures among older women are more than twice those for men
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2009, there were 271,000 hip fractures and the rate for women was almost three times the rate for men.
- White women have significantly higher hip fracture rates than black women.
- The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.
- In 2009, about 20,400 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
- Men are more likely than women to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the fall death rate in 2009 was 34% higher for men than for women.
Quick facts about falls
- The risk of falling increases with age and is greater for women than for men.
- Two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within six months.
- A decrease in bone density contributes to falls and resultant injuries.
- Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility.
- At least one-third of all falls in the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home.