According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One-fourth of 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 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 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 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.
- More than one-third of older adults with minor head trauma caused by a fall will need to return to the emergency room within 90 days after discharge, claims a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society
While the numbers are already staggering, it’s likely that many of falls go unreported and untreated, and therefore the number would be much greater.
But falls are not an inevitable factor in aging. Many could be prevented, with greater adherence to discharge plans or medication prescriptions, precautions against safety hazards in the home, addressing untreated illnesses, or actions as simple as proper standing and walking using necessary aids.
When an individual presents in the emergency room for a fall, or the fire department is called to aid a fallen senior, steps can, and should be taken, to address the risks that led to the fall. A non-medical home agency may be able to conduct a free in-home care assessment and make recommendations that could remedy the situation and prevent further falls. While a caregiver is not always necessary, statistics do show that falls are greatly reduced when a caregiver is in the home to assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, cleaning, cooking, assisting with the restroom, etc.