Health care professionals have a number of resources available to help their older patients avoid falls—the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among US adults aged 65 years or older. A recent CDC analysis showed that in 2014, 28.7% of older adults in the US reported an estimated 29 million falls among older adults, sending 2.8 million to hospital emergency departments for treatment. About 800,000 were hospitalized and some 27,000 died of their injuries.
Older adult falls can result in death, serious injury, and loss of independence. This analysis found that an estimated 7 million falls required medical treatment or caused restricted activity for at least 1 day. Women and those in older age groups were at higher risk for falling and being injured in a fall. Reduced muscle strength is a risk factor for falls, and aging and female sex are associated with reduced muscle mass. Women have been found to be more likely to report falls than men. Aging also is associated with changes in gait and balance, increased inactivity, more severe chronic conditions, and more prescription medication use, all of which are risk factors for falls. Annual Medicare costs for older adult falls have been estimated at $31.3 billion.