Fall prevention

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations in Canada. In 2010, falls cost Canadians more than any other type of injury, with the total economic burden estimated as $8.7 billion.1 These figures alone clearly demonstrate the need for national action around this issue.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can fall at anytime, however, children under the age of 6 years and older adults are more likely to be seriously injured as a result of a fall. The good news is that most falls are predictable and preventable. 

Falls in Children (Ages 0-6)

Falling is a normal part of development, as children walk, climb, run, jump, play and explore their environment. While most falls in children do not result in serious injury, nearly 5,000 children from birth to 9 years were admitted to a hospital and over 165,000 visited an emergency department as a result of a fall in 2010. This makes falls a leading cause for hospital admissions and emergency room visit from injury in those ages 0-9.1

The type and severity of falls in children is reflective of their age. Falls in infants and young toddlers typically occur around the home - from furniture, beds, change tables or high chairs or down the stairs. In older toddlers, falls tend to occur while they are walking, running or crawling around the house. As children get older and reach between the ages of 5 and 9 years of age, playgrounds appear to be the most common area for falls.

To learn how to prevent children from falling, while also ensuring they live healthy, happy and active lifestyles, click here.

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 over 1.6 million seniors who fell at least once in 2011.2 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.3

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors. In fact, almost half of Canadian seniors who fall experience serious injuries, like fractures and sprains. They are responsible for 95% of hip fractures are due to falls in those over the age of 65.2

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.4

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% reduction in falls in older adults aged 65+ between 2010 and 2035, 4,400 lives could be saved and a total of $10.8 billion costs could be avoided.1

Interested in fall prevention resources developed for older adults? Click here.

For fall prevention resources for health care professionals/researchers, click here.

Endnotes

  1. Parachute. (2015). The Cost of Injury in Canada. Parachute: Toronto, ON.
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). Seniors Falls in Canada: Second Report.
  3. Scott, V., Wagar, L., & Elliott, S. (2010). Falls & Related Injuries among Older Canadians: Fall‐related Hospitalizations & Intervention Initiatives.  Prepared on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of Aging and Seniors. Victoria BC: Victoria Scott Consulting.  
  4. Do, M.T., Chang, V.C., Kuran, N., Thompson, W. (2015). Fall-related injuries among Canadian seniors, 2005-2013: an analysis of the Canadian Community Health Survey. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, 35(7).

 

Last Updated: October 21, 2015