Falls in older adults

It is estimated that one in three persons over the age of 65 is likely to fall at least once each year. In Canada, this translated into more than 1.6 million seniors who fell at least once in 2011. With the number of older persons in Canada projected to increase to 9.8 million in 2036, the estimated number of older persons who will fall at least once in 2036 will increase to 3.3 million.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors. In fact, almost half of Canadian seniors who fall experience serious injuries, such as fractures and sprains. Ninety five per cent of hip fractures are due to falls in those over the age of 65.

Fall-related injuries in older adults are associated with significant disability, reduced mobility and independence, higher likelihood of admission to a nursing home and increased risk of premature death. Even in the absence of injuries, falls may have long-term psychological consequences, such as depression, fear of falling, and loss of confidence. These, in turn, lead to restriction in daily and social activities and, subsequently, declines in health and function and increased risk of future falls.

Fall prevention is of critical importance as our Canadian population ages; without successful prevention strategies, we face a difficult and pressing issue of providing treatment and facilities to care for those who have been injured due to a fall. It is forecasted that by achieving a 20-per-cent reduction in falls in older adults aged 65-plus between 2010 and 2035, 4,400 lives could be saved and a total of $10.8 billion costs could be avoided.

Review fall prevention resources developed for older adults.