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Researchers: Fatal falls among older adults on the rise

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Delft, Netherlands — The number of fatal falls among U.S. adults 75 and older nearly tripled from 2000 to 2016, results of a recent study led by Dutch researchers show.

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System, the research team analyzed age-specific mortality rates of five age groups in adults 75 and older. They found that the total number of fatal falls rose to 25,189 in 2016 from 8,613 in 2000.

People in the 85-89 age range had the most fatal falls, peaking at 7,218 in 2016. And as age increased, mortality rates from falls skyrocketed: In 2016, the rate was 630.8 deaths per 100,000 adults 95 and older – nearly double the 90-94 age group’s rate of 367.5 deaths per 100,000.

The study was published online June 4 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a related study published online the same day in JAMA, Canadian researchers found that older adults at a high risk for falls benefited from a home exercise program to improve strength and balance, cutting subsequent falls by 36% in a 12-month clinical trial.

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