Problem: In 2005, 15,802 persons aged>or=65 years died from fall injuries. How many older adults seek outpatient treatment for minor or moderate fall injuries is unknown.
Method: To estimate the percentage of older adults who fell during the preceding three months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data from two questions about falls included in the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey.
Results: Approximately 5.8 million (15.9%) persons aged>or=65 years reported falling at least once during the preceding three months, and 1.8 million (31.3%) of those who fell sustained an injury that resulted in a doctor visit or restricted activity for at least one day.
Discussion: This report presents the first national estimates of the number and proportion of persons reporting fall-related injuries associated with either doctor visits or restricted activity.
Summary: The prevalence of falls reinforces the need for broader use of scientifically proven fall-prevention interventions.
Impact on industry: Falls and fall-related injuries represent an enormous burden to individuals, society, and to our health care system. Because the U.S. population is aging, this problem will increase unless we take preventive action by broadly implementing evidence-based fall prevention programs. Such programs could appreciably decrease the incidence and health care costs of fall injuries, as well as greatly improve the quality of life for older adults.