According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (via the National Council on Aging or NCOA):
- One-third of Americans aged 65+ fall each year.
- Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
- Falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths.
- In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
- The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
These figures are staggering and fortunately organizations like NCOA are addressing this by educating consumers and professionals about the risks of falls and how to prevent them. NCOA heads up The National Falls Prevention Resource Center which serves as a clearinghouse of tools, best practices, and other information on fall prevention. The center also leads the Falls Free® Initiative, a national effort to rein in the growing public health issue of falls, associated injuries and deaths. A coalition of more than 70 national organizations is working together on this effort. Strategies include improving fall risk assessments and their availability to all, increasing physical mobility, reducing the impact of medications as a falls risk factor, and improving home and environmental safety.
Written by: Christine Dunster, Clinical Director, Next Health