Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

• One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.

• Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

• The older adult population is projected to increase by 55% by 2060, hence falls rates and health care spending are projected to rise.

• Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations.

• In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.

• Each year about $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls.

• The cost of treating falls is projected to increase to over $101 billion by 2030.The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.


Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu.

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