Falls among Elderly an Ongoing, Serious Public Health Problem

Article excerpt

FALLS ARE a serious problem for Americans older than 65, about 58 million of whom fell at least once in the past three months, according to a recent federal study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in March that found about 5 percent of all people older than 65 went to see a health provider or restricted their activity during the previous three months because of a fall. The study appeared in the March 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers analyzed data from CDC's 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Center and found 1.8 million adults older than 65 sought medical help or restricted activity for at least a day during the previous three months due to a fall. The study is considered a snapshot and not a complete estimate of yearly falls among the elderly.

Among other findings, the study found no difference in the percentage of men and women who reported falling during the previous three months. Yet about 36 percent of women reported injuries, compared to about 25 percent of men.

"The effects these injuries have on the quality of life of older adults and on the U.S. health care system reinforces the need for broader use of scientifically proven fall-prevention interventions," the study's authors wrote.

Nationwide, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults ages 65 and older.

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The study found that American Indians and Alaska Natives reported the highest percentage of falls, at 28 percent. …