The CDC reported on May 11, 2018 that the rate of deaths from falls increased in the United States by 31% from 2007 to 2016 (an average of 3.0% per year), with the largest increase per year among persons aged ≥85 years. In 2016, a total of 29,668 U.S. residents aged ≥65 years (i.e., “older adults”) died as the result of a fall, compared with 18,334 deaths in 2007.
Approximately one in four older adults in the United States report falling each year and fall-related emergency department visits are estimated at approximately 3 million per year. Deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among older adults, and falls account for the largest percentage of those deaths.
The largest annual percentage change in mortality rates from falls occurred in Maine (11.0% per year), followed by Oklahoma (10.9%) and West Virginia (7.8%). A significant increase in the rate from 2007 to 2016 occurred in 30 states (Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming) and DC.
Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin had initial periods of stability followed by a significant increase in fall death rates. The death rate from falls decreased in Missouri during 2007–2012, followed by an increase during 2012–2016. The death rate from falls increased in Utah during 2007–2012, followed by a decrease during 2012–2016. No significant change in fall mortality rates occurred in 11 states (Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, and Vermont). After an initial increase, rates stabilized in three states (Colorado, Oregon, and Tennessee).
In 2016, the rate of deaths from falls was higher among older white adults than among other racial/ethnic groups. In 2016, there was a higher rate of fatal falls among older men, in contrast to the rate of nonfatal falls, which is higher among older women.
The CDC reports that the higher rates of deaths from falls among older age groups is consistent with advancing age being an independent risk factor for falls as well as being associated with other risk factors such as 1) reduced activity; 2) chronic conditions, including arthritis, neurologic disease, and incontinence; 3) increased use of prescription medications, which might act synergistically on the central nervous system; and 4) age-related changes in gait and balance. Adults aged ≥85 years are the fastest-growing age group among U.S. residents and will reach approximately 8.9 million in 2030.
The CDC reports that “[a]s the population of persons aged ≥65 years in the United States, increases, the rising number of deaths from falls in this age group can be addressed by screening for fall risk and intervening to address modifiable risk factors such as polypharmacy or gait, strength, and balance issues. Interventions that target multiple risk factors can reduce the rate of falls and can be initiated during annual wellness visits.”
In 2014, 11.0% of nursing home residents in the United States suffered one or more falls that did not result in injury. That same year, 5.3% of nursing home residents in the United States suffered one or more falls that did result in injury. In 2013, the percentages were the same.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) due to a fall while a resident of a nursing home in the United States due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or nursing home abuse, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your nursing home fall claim for you and file a nursing home fall case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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