Falls, with or without injury, carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, thus, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult die 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 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
- In 2014, the total cost of fall injuries was $31 billion.
- The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Among the elderly population, falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospital admissions. In fact, one out of every four seniors fall every year. Each year, more than 2.8 million fall-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms.
Several factors contribute to seniors falling much more frequently than younger people:
- Lack of Physical Activity. Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance and reduced flexibility.
- Impaired Vision. This includes age-related eye diseases, as well as not wearing glasses that have been prescribed.
- Medications. Sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotic drugs, and taking multiple medications can all increase the risk of falling.
- Diseases. Health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis cause weakness in the extremities, poor grip strength, balance disorders and cognitive impairment.
- Surgery. Hip replacements and other surgeries can leave an elderly person weak, in pain and discomfort, and less mobile than they were before the procedure. This can be temporary while a patient heals or a new and lasting problem.
- Environmental Hazards. A third of falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of safety equipment.
Despite these risk factors, falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. Many falls can be prevented by making homes safer and using mobility products that help keep seniors more stable.