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Rate of fatal falls among elderly on the rise: CDC

elderly woman walking
Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Atlanta — The fatal fall rate for people 65 and older jumped 31 percent from 2007 to 2016, making falls the leading cause of injury-related death among people in this age group, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Analyzing data compiled from death certificates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researchers found that 29,668 adults suffered fall-related deaths in 2016 – a rate of 61.6 per 100,000 – compared with 18,334 deaths and a rate of 47 per 100,000 in 2007.

Other findings from 2016:

  • Elderly women suffered more fall-related deaths than elderly men, but the fatal fall rate for men (72.3 deaths per 100,000) was higher than for women (54 per 100,000).
  • Among age subgroups, seniors 85 and older had a fatal fall rate of 257.9 per 100,000. The rate was 61.4 for 75- to 85-year-olds and 15.6 for 65- to 74-year-olds.

The National Council on Aging offers tips to help prevent falls among seniors:

  • Check that handrails on all staircases are secure.
  • Increase lighting around the house. Focus on areas at the top and bottom of stairs, and ensure convenient lighting is available at night.
  • Install grab bars in bathtubs or showers and near toilets.
  • Exercise regularly to improve balance, strength and gait.
  • Consult a physical therapist to determine whether a cane or walker is needed.
  • Ensure prescriptions for eyeglasses and medications are current.

The study was published May 11 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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