Three in 10 elderly patients who sought care in an emergency room after a fall were admitted to the hospital for treatment of their injuries, which was a major share of the $20 billion cost for treating falls in people over age 65 in 2006.
Since 2006, fall-related health costs are believed to have increased substantially because of a larger number of seniors suffering falls, and because of the higher costs of treating the fractures, open wounds, and head traumas they cause.
Those were two findings from a new report from the federal Agency for Health Research and Quality, which said that each year, about one-third of elderly adults experiences a fall. Falls are the most common cause of non-fatal injuries in the senior population.
"Because many falls are preventable and their impact on the U.S. healthcare system is significant, it is important to better understand the types of fall-related injuries experienced by elderly adults, particularly those injuries requiring treatment in an ED," wrote the authors Pamela Owens, C. Allison Russo, William Spector, and Ryan Muter, who are analysts for the agency.
Throughout the country, many healthcare systems are working on programs to help older people maintain their sense of balance, wear better shoes, and get more exercise to maintain muscle strength. Nevertheless, many older people don’t realize their increased vulnerability to fall-related injuries as they age.
Here are some highlights from the report: