Objective: This report presents national estimates of fall injury episodes for noninstitutionalized U.S. adults aged 65 years and over, by selected characteristics. Circumstances surrounding the fall injury and activity limitations and utilization of health care resulting from the fall injury are also presented.
Methods: Combined data from the 2001-2003 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), were analyzed to produce estimates for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. Data on nonfatal medically attended fall injuries occurring within the 3 months preceding the interview were obtained from an adult family member.
Results: The annualized rate of fall injury episodes for noninstitutionalized adults aged 65 years and over in 2001-2003 was 51 episodes per 1,000 population. Rates of fall injuries increased with age, and were higher for women compared with men. Non-Hispanic white older adults had higher rates of fall injuries compared with non-Hispanic black older adults. Older adults with certain chronic conditions and activity limitations had higher rates of fall injuries compared with older adults without these conditions. The most common cause of fall injuries among older adults was slipping, tripping, or stumbling, and most fall injuries occurred inside or around the outside of the home. Nearly 60 percent of older adults who experienced a fall injury visited an emergency room for treatment or advice. Nearly one-third of older adults experiencing a fall injury needed help with activities of daily living as a result, and over one-half of these persons expected to need this help for at least 6 months. A similar percentage experienced limitation in instrumental activities of daily living as a result of fall injuries.
Conclusion: Fall injuries remain very prevalent among older adults and result in high health care utilization and activity limitations. Rates of fall injuries vary by demographic and health characteristics of older noninstitutionalized adults.