Falls are the leading cause of injuries among adults age 65 and older and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the latest data, from 2014, revealing the magnitude of the issue.
During 2014, 28.7 percent of older adults reported falling with an estimated 29 million falls resulting in 7 million injuries. That year, about 27,000 older adults died due to falls, 2.8 million were treated in emergency departments for injuries related to falls, and about 800,000 of those patients were then hospitalized.
Annual Medicare costs for older adult falls have been estimated at $31.3 billion, a startling number considering the older adult population is expected to increase 55 percent by 2030. The CDC projects that the expected 2030 population would result in an estimated 48.8 million falls and 11.9 million fall injuries unless effective interventions are used nationally.
Other interesting findings from the CDC survey:
Women (30.3 percent) were more likely to report falling than men (26.5 percent) and more likely to report a fall injury (12.6 percent versus 8.3 percent of men);
The percentage of older adults who fell increased with age, with 26.7 percent of those aged 65-74 years, 29.8 percent among people 75 to 84 and 36.5 percent for those 85 and up.
Among states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of older adults who reported a fall ranged from 20.8 percent in Hawaii to 34.4 percent in Arkansas.
The CDC notes that proven effective strategies for reducing the number of older adult falls includes a clinical approach such as gait and balance assessment, strength and balance exercises, and medication review. The department also encourages health care providers to discuss falls prevention with their patients; half of older adults who fall don’t discuss it with their provider often because they fear this will lead to a loss of independence, according to the CDC.
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