For millions of older Americans, falls present a serious health risk. More than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. The following is a concise list of facts related to this important health concern:

  1. In the United States, one of every three persons age 65 and older falls each year.
  2. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  3. Among seniors, falls are the underlying cause of a large proportion of fatal traumatic brain injuries.
  4. From 1989 to 1998, the fall-induced death rate among people ages 80 and older increased 60%.
  5. The risk of falling increases exponentially with age.
  6. Older adults who have fallen previously or who stumble frequently are two to three times more likely to fall within the next year.
  7. For people ages 65 and older, two-thirds to one-half of falls occur in or around the home.
  8. At least 95% of hip fractures among older adults are caused by falls.
  9. Fall-related death rates and hip fracture hospitalization rates have been increasing.
  10. In 2002, nearly 13,000 people ages 65 and older died from fall-related injuries.
  11. More than 60% of people who die from falls are 75 and older.
  12. Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures or head traumas that reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death.
  13. Among people ages 75 years and older, those who fall are four to five times more likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
  14. Among older adults, the majority of fractures are caused by falls.
  15. Approximately 3% to 5% of older adult falls cause fractures. Based on the 2000 census, this translates to 360,000 to 480,000 fall-related fractures each year.
  16. The most common fractures are of the vertebrae, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  17. In 2000, direct medical costs totaled $179 million dollars for fatal and $19.3 billion dollars for nonfatal fall injuries.
  18. Fractures are the most serious health consequence of falls.
  19. Eighty-seven percent of all fractures among older adults are due to falls.
  20. Approximately 250,000 hip fractures, the most serious fracture, occur each year among people over age 65.
  21. Half of all older people hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after their injury.
  22. Many of these falls and resulting injuries can be prevented.
  23. White men have the highest fall-related death rates, followed by white women, black men, and black women.
  24. Women sustain about 80% of all hip fractures.
  25. Among both sexes, hip fracture rates increase exponentially with age. People ages 85 years and older are 10 to15 times more likely to sustain hip fractures than are people ages 60 to 65.
  26. Strategies to prevent falls among older adults include exercises to improve strength, balance, and flexibility; reviews of medications that may affect balance; and home modifications that reduce fall hazards such as installing grab bars, improving lighting, and removing items that may cause tripping.