Since the 1990s, the death rate from falling has increased greatly among older adults, say officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This could reflect the fact that people are living longer with chronic medical conditions.
But the CDC also reports this good news: Injury rates from hip fractures have decreased sharply among women after 1996. One possible explanation is that Medicare began reimbursing care providers for bone density screenings on elderly people in 1998, researchers say.
In 1993, the death rate from falling was about 24 per 100,000. In 2003, this figure rose to 37 deaths per 100,000. Falling is the 14th leading cause of death among people age 65 and older.
Looking at nonfatal injuries from falling between 2001 and 2005, researchers found that this rate had increased too, but only slightly (by 3%). The smaller increase in this category is probably influenced by the dramatic reduction in hip fractures among older women.
Stevens JA, et al., Fatalities and injuries from falls among older adults-United States, 1993-2003 and 2001-2005, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, November 17, 2006.