For US residents, ages 65 and older, the rate of deaths related to falls steadily increased by 31% from 2007 through 2016, making falls the leading cause of injury-related deaths in this age group. For those aged 85 and older, the rate rose the most dramatically—from 9,188 deaths in 2007 to 16,454 deaths in 2016. And men had higher rates of falls-related deaths than did women with 73.2 per 100,000 men compared with 54 per 100,000 women.
These are the latest statistics included in a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Deaths from Falls Among Persons Aged ≥ 65 Years – United States, 2007-2016). In general deaths climbed by about 3% per year, according to the report.
Authors of the report believe that the rates of falls-related deaths may be climbing due to an aging population and longer survival rates after common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Furthermore, they believe the issue can be addressed. “As the US population aged [65 and older] increases, health care providers can address the rising number of deaths from falls in this age group by asking about fall occurrences, assessing gait and balance, reviewing medications, and prescribing interventions such as strength and balance exercises or physical therapy,” the report states.
Physical therapists can measure falls risk and prevent dangerous falls by conducting screenings to assess risks and designing individualized plans that include making your home safe, educating you about medical risk factors associated with falls, providing exercises and balance training, and working with other health care professionals to address any underlying medical conditions.