TUESDAY, June 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Deaths from falls are increasing sharply among elderly Americans, a new study finds.
Nearly 25,000 people 75 and older died as a result of falls in 2016 — almost three times as many as in 2000. And experts warn that the toll is likely to rise along with population shifts.
“As the United States population continues to age, we can expect more deaths from falls,” said researcher Robin Lee, an epidemiologist at the Injury Center of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We can also expect more hospitalizations and nursing home admissions as a result of falls.”
An estimated $50 billion was spent on medical care related to falls in 2015, Lee said.
For both men and women, the death rate due to falls per 100,000 people roughly doubled between 2000 and 2016, according to the study.
For men, the rate rose from about 61 per 100,000 to 116. Among women, the death rate jumped from 46 to 106 per 100,000.
Not surprisingly, the danger rose as people got older, Lee’s team confirmed.
In 2016, for example, the death rate due to falls among 75- to 79-year-olds was 42 per 100,000. Among those 95 and older, the rate was 591 per 100,000.
Exactly why these rates are rising isn’t really clear, researchers said. What is clear, they emphasized, is that falls don’t have to happen in the first place.
“Caregivers should know that falls are preventable, and they can encourage their loved ones to speak to their doctor about their fall risk,” Lee said.
The report was published June 4 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Another study in the same issue tested a home-based exercise program aimed at helping seniors prevent falls.
That study was led by Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her team found that the program — in which a physical therapist visits the home and provides strength and balance retraining exercises — reduced falls over 12 months by 36%.