Study Finds Fatal Falls Are On The Rise For Older Americans
by Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new report which concludes that fatal falls are increasing in the country.
In 2016, 29,668 Americans ages 65 and older died as a result of a fall. In other words, falls ended the lives of 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens that year. In contrast, in 2007, there were only 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 seniors.
About 1 in 4 senior citizens has a serious fall each year, experts estimate, and these falls prompt nearly 3 million visits to hospital emergency departments. Twenty percent of falls result in broken bones, traumatic brain injury or other significant problems. Once every 19 minutes, a senior citizen in America dies as a result of injuries sustained during a fall.
Other article highlights include:
- Between 2007 and 2016, the fall-related mortality rate for Americans 65 and older increased significantly in 30 states and D.C.. It held steady in some states while others were more volatile. But no state saw a decline in fall related death.
- Wisconsin had the highest rate (142.7/100,000 seniors). Alabama had the lowest at 24.4.
- Total number of fall related deaths was higher for older women (15,947) than for older men (13, 721). However, the rate of such deaths was higher for men (72.3 per 100,000) than women (54 per 100,000) due to women’s higher population.
- Risk of death from a fall becomes greater as you age:
- Ages 65 – 74 (15.6 deaths per 100,000)
- Ages 75 to 84 (61.4 deaths per 100,000)
- Ages 85 and up (247.9 deaths per 100,000)
- At current rates of fatal falls, the population increases coming as a result of the baby boomers, would result in 43,000 deaths per year in 2030. If rate increased by 3% per year, 59,000 senior citizens would die in 2030.
Author’s Note: although this article focuses on fatal falls, the 3,000,000 visits to emergency rooms is a number that reinforces the fact that more and more seniors will most likely be on walkers or other mobility devices as a result of an injury from a fall. If the 20% number is correct, 600,000 people are injured significantly each year.
The Director of our Mom’s Assisted Living Facility commented frequently to us that she loved the fact that all the women were sporting walker bags (courtesy of our designer Sharon). In her opinion she felt they were far less likely to fall again trying to carry a purse, or their mail or other items. With the bag, they could keep at least one hand on the walker.
Villa Siena, a senior living center in Mountainview, CT, purchased our bags for all their residents with mobility devices for Christmas 2016. When I visited nearly a year later, they were still using their bags (see picture at top). Smart to provide fabulous functionality and a way to provide a little more safety while using the walker!