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Falls Among Older Adults
Falls Among Older Adults

Older adults account for a disproportionate share of fall-related injuries, and falls are particularly harmful to older adults. Falls and fall-related injuries seriously affect older adults’ quality of life and present a substantial burden to the Ohio healthcare system. They surpass all other mechanisms of injury as a cause of emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalization and death. 

An older adult falls every minute on average in Ohio, resulting in three deaths each day, two hospitalizations each hour and an ED visit every six and one-half minutes.

The following data provide clear justification of the need for fall prevention efforts.

Falls among older adults have reached epidemic proportions.

  • From 2000 to 2015, Ohioans aged 65 and older experienced a 201 percent increase in the number of fatal falls and a 147 percent increase in the fall death rate. On average, 3.0 older Ohioans suffered fatal falls each day in 2015.

  • In 2014, there were 4.5 fall-related ED visits for every 100 Ohio older adults and nearly 11 fall-related hospitalizations for every 1,000 Ohio older adults. Fall-related ED visit and hospitalization rates increased from 2002 to 2014.​

Older adults are disproportionately affected by fall-related injury.

  • Falls are the leading cause of injury-related ED visits, hospitalizations and deaths for Ohioans aged 65 and older.

  • Older adults account for 16 percent of the Ohio population; however, they account for 85 percent of fatal falls.

  • From 2000 to 2015, Ohioans aged 65 and older experienced a 201 percent increase in the number of fatal falls.

Falls are costly.

The total estimated cost of fatal falls among Ohioans aged 65 and older (medical costs, work loss) is nearly $2 billion annually in Ohio.

                           Costs Associated with Falls Among Older Adults, Ages 65+, Ohio, 2014

 

Number of Injuries

Medical Cost

Work Loss Cost

Combined Cost

Deaths*

1,160

$29,861,000

$132,340,000

$162,201,000

Hospitalizations**

19,461

$799,676,000

$587,105,000

$1,386,780,000

ED Visits**

81,275

$26,4111,000

$114,898,000

$379,010,000

TOTAL

101,896

$1,093,648,000

$834,343,000

$1,927,991,000

*Source: Ohio Department of Health Vital Statistics
**Source: Ohio Hospital Association

Additional resources for the prevention of falls among older adults are needed.

Due to the large and growing burden of fall-related injuries in Ohio, especially among Ohioans over 65 years of age, additional resources are needed at both the state and local levels to implement evidence-based prevention initiatives. 

Falls are not a normal part of aging.

There are simple steps that older adults can take to reduce their risk for a fall. Additional resources, including checklists and brochures, are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

State Plan for Preventing Falls Among Older Adults

Through a CDC injury grant, the Ohio Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Section established the Ohio Injury Prevention Partnership (OIPP) in November of 2007. The purpose of the OIPP is to bring together a group of multi-disciplinary professionals from across the state to identify priority injury issues and develop strategies to address them. One of the OIPP’s priorities is "Falls Among Older Adults," and the members recommended the formation of a specific group to address the issue. In November of 2009, the Ohio Older Adults Falls Prevention Coalition was formed and a statewide partnership worked together to develop a 2017-2021 state plan.