Nationally and in Massachusetts, falls are the leading cause of unintentional nonfatal and fatal injuries among this age group. Some fall-related injuries not only carry high financial costs due to emergency care, hospitalization and rehabilitation needs, but also significant challenges to an older adult’s quality of life and independence. For example, the experience of a fall can lead an older person to develop a “fear of falling” that makes them limit their activity (increasing muscle weakness-a risk factor) which can leave them socially isolated and at greater risk for depression and falls.
Older adults (age 65 +) in Massachusetts and impact of falls
Older adults currently make up 15.4% of the Massachusetts population and this age group is expected to increase to 21% by the year 2030. Here are some other fall-related facts:
- In 2014, over one in four community-dwelling older adults reported falling in the past year and of those who fell over one in three reported sustaining an injury.
- Every month in Massachusetts, over 40 older adults die from injuries sustained from a fall. Additionally, approximately 4,000 are treated in hospital emergency departments and 1,500 are hospitalized because of serious fall-related injuries.
- In 2014, Massachusetts acute care hospital charges associated with older adult fall-related injuries totaled over $744 million.
- Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) deaths (78%) and hospitalizations (83%) in the older adult population.