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Fall Statistics for Seniors

Jennifer Rhodes-Kropf, M.D.'s picture
Fall Statistics for Seniors
Fall Statistics for Seniors

If you ask older adults, “What are your biggest fears?” many will tell you they have a fear of falling. Some have already fallen, while others have witnessed a friend or family member suffer a fall and its painful or sometimes life-threatening consequences.

Unfortunately, many older adults do not receive the help they need preventing falls because they are reluctant to report them. This may be due to concerns about possible loss of independence or the need to leave their own home and move in with others or even into a nursing home. While most falls do not result in a serious injury, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in adults over age 65. Falls can be a big danger to an older adult, regardless of their overall health, and can occur anywhere—in an independent living situation, at assisted living, even in the hospital.

Community Living Older Adults

About one third of older community living adults over age 65 suffer a fall each year. Although 6% of these falls result in a serious injury, 2 million are treated in emergency departments for related injuries. Fall risk increases with each decade of life. In 2010, persons less than age 75 had the highest rate of fall related injuries for which a health care professional was consulted.

Hospitalized Older Adults

Older adults are more likely to have a fall while in a hospital. Increased weakness related to illness, unfamiliar surroundings, noise and hospital routines, medications, confusion, and exacerbations of chronic conditions are all contributing factors to the increased risk of falls. Injuries related to the fall can lead to increased length of stay and increased costs.

Older Adults Living in Long-Term Care Facilities

About ½  to up to ¾  of all adults living in long-term care settings suffer a fall each year. This is twice the rate of falls for older adults living in the community. Older adults who reside in nursing homes tend to fall because they are more frail in general than community dwelling seniors, are older, and have more cognitive impairment and difficulty walking.

Many falls are potentially preventable. Identifying and reducing risk for falls is an important part of every older adult’s health maintenance plan. Falls risks may include environmental risks at home or outdoors, as well as health conditions, medications that may be used to treat these conditions, or risky behaviors. 

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Geriatrician

Dr. Rhodes-Kropf, is a staff geriatrician at HRC. She received her medical degree from the University of North Carolina and completed her internal medicine internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and her residency in internal medicine at Cornell University/New York Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Rhodes-Kropf, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, completed a geriatrics fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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Comments (4)

Thank you for the post. Would

Thank you for the post. Would you kindly tell me the reference for your claim that about 6% of the falls of seniors 65 or older result in serious injury? I thought the percentage was considerably higher than that. Would you know the percentage of falls of senior males age 75 or older that result in serious injury? Thank you.
Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media Team's picture

Hi Robert,

Hi Robert, That particular statistic came from our research guide: http://www.hebrewseniorlife.org/workfiles/IFAR/PreventingFallsGuide.pdf. The footnote leads me to believe that it is credited to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Falls Among Older Adults: www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls/html. Erica

Thank you for this post. My

Thank you for this post. My concerns about the elderly and the impact of falls go back to our experience with my father-in-laws deteriorating health condition following his fall in an assisted living facility. Although many falls are not preventable, care givers should take all preventive measures they can to try to reduce the opportunity for falls.

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