Almost 30% of noninstitutionalized older adults fell within the past year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors encourage states to develop evidence-based falls prevention interventions for people aged at least 65 years, especially those with severe vision impairment.
“This approach might lead to fewer injuries, higher quality of life and greater independence among older adults, as well as reduced healthcare costs,” the authors wrote in the May 5 edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The research adds to the limited state-level data that exist on the prevalence of falls among older adults with impaired vision.
In 2013, falls among older adults led to $34 million in direct medical costs, they said. Those with poor vision often have difficulty maintaining balance, identifying low-contract hazards, estimating distances and discerning spatial relationships, the report noted.
Results of the state-based, cross-sectional telephone survey analyzed by the authors showed that 28.9% of respondents reported in 2014 that they had fallen once in the previous year. Among the 6.7% of respondents who said they had severe vision impairment, 46.7% reported a fall during the previous year (compared with 27.7% for those who said their vision was not severely impaired).
The prevalence of falls among those with severe vision impairment ranged from a low of 30.8% in Hawaii to a high of 59.1% in California. This compared with a low of 20.4% in Hawaii to a high of 32.4% in Alaska for those without severely impaired vision.