Falls become leading cause of injury deaths for over-65s
23 November 2006
Atlanta, USA. Fall-related death rates for men and
women 65 years and older increased significantly from 1993 to 2003,
according to a report released today in the US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
2003, more than 13,700 older adults died from falls in the USA, making them
the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older. From 1993 to
2003 fatal falls increased by more than 55 percent —with more men (46.2%)
dying from falls than women (31.1%). The report also indicates that in 2003
almost 1.8 million seniors were treated in emergency departments for
nonfatal injuries from falls and more than 460,000 were hospitalized. In
2000, the direct medical costs for falls among older adults were
approximately $19 billion.
"Fall death rates have increased faster than
fall injury rates. In large part, this is because people are living longer,
and many of our seniors now are older and frailer. They need our help to
prevent potentially fatal fall injuries," said Dr. Judy Stevens, an
epidemiologist in CDC's Injury Center and author of the report.
highlights in the report are:
- From 1993 to 2003, fatal fall rates increased for both sexes and all
races, but they remained consistently higher for men.
- In contrast to fatal falls, rates for nonfatal fall-related injuries
were, on average, 48% higher for women than for men.
- The decline in women's hip fracture injury rates from 2001 to 2004
may be a result of prevention efforts such as osteoporosis screening
combined with widespread education about treatments to rebuild bone
- As they age, men become more susceptible to hip fractures if they
fall. Osteoporosis screening and treatment may also benefit them.
"Injuries from falls and the fear of falling, lead older adults to
limit their activities, which can interfere with independent living. But
we know that falls are not inevitable. CDC and its partners have simple
strategies that can help seniors and caregivers," said Dr. Ileana Arias,
director of CDC's Injury Center. "Working with the CDC Foundation and
MetLife Foundation, we have updated and revised information that we
believe can play a critical role in reversing the trend in fall deaths
and injuries among our nation's older adults."
How to reduce falls
Two brochures help older adults and their families and caregivers
understand fall risks and ways to prevent falls. What YOU Can Do to
Prevent Falls explains steps that older adults can take to reduce their
risk of falling. These steps include:
- Exercising regularly; exercise programs like Tai Chi that
strength and improve balance are especially good.
- Asking their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines —
both prescription and over-the-counter-to reduce side effects and
- Having their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
- Making their homes safer by eliminating fall hazards and
Check for Safety: A home fall prevention checklist for older
adults offers a room-by-room list of hazards to look for in the
home that can increase the risk of falling and tips for reducing
Four posters, designed for use in healthcare
facilities, senior centres, and other community organizations, highlight
each of the prevention messages in the brochures. All of these products are
available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Electronic and print copies of the brochures and posters are
available free of charge at
http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/fallsmaterial.htm For more
information about falls among older adults, or injury in general,
visit the CDC Injury Center's website at
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention