The death rate from falls among adults aged 65 or more years increased 31% from 2007 to 2016, according to newly published federal data. And it’s growing the fastest among those aged 85 or more years.
The rate increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia as well as among both men and women. Among states in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report dated May 11, death rates from falls ranged from 24.4 per 100,000 in Alabama to 142.7 per 100,000 in Wisconsin.
The statistics, an analysis of mortality data from death certificates and other information, were posted online Thursday. A CDC spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living that the data include residents of nursing homes and other residential care settings, although researchers were not able to report the findings by setting.
In 2016, a total of 29,668 U.S. residents aged at least 65 years died as the result of a fall, compared with 18,334 deaths in 2007.
The death rate from falls increased in almost every demographic category included in the analysis — sex, age group, race/ethnicity, and urban/rural status. The fastest-growing rate, however, which was 3.9% per year, was among people who were at least 85 years old.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people who are at least 65 years old, according to the report. Deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh-leading cause of death among older adults, and falls account for the largest percentage of those deaths, the CDC said.
Healthcare providers can address the increasing number of deaths from falls among older adults by asking them about fall occurrences, assessing gait and balance, reviewing medications and prescribing interventions such as strength and balance exercises or physical therapy, according to the authors. The Medicare-covered annual wellness visit provides an ideal time for such conversations, they added, and initiatives such as the CDC’s STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) can assist.