An increasing number of older people in North Carolina and across the country are dying as the result of falls, according to a study. However, health experts say deadly slips, trips and falls can be prevented.
Study shows fatal falls among elderly Americans sharply increasing
A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 25,000 Americans age 75 and older died from fall-related injuries in 2016, which is almost three times more than the number who died in 2000. Over the same period, the death rate for falls roughly doubled for both men and women. For men, the death rate rose from around 61 to 116 per 100,000. For women, the death rate jumped from around 46 per 100,000 to 106.
Some of the possible reasons for the increase include the country’s aging population, a sedentary lifestyle, balance issues, chronic diseases and prescription drugs.
Common fall-related injuries
Falls can cause a variety of life-threatening injuries in older people, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Bone fractures
- Complications from hospitalization and immobility, including respiratory infections
How to prevent falls
While falls among the elderly can lead to serious health consequences, health experts say they are preventable. For example, a University of British Columbia study published in the same issue of JAMA found strength and balance exercises reduced falls by 36% over 12 months.
Older people can also help prevent slips and falls by reviewing prescriptions for drugs that cause low blood pressure or affect balance, getting their eyes checked, wearing safe footwear and trip-proofing their homes. Home-based physical therapy is also recommended for those who have mobility issues.
Individuals injured by slip and fall accidents caused by the negligence of another party may be entitled to compensation. Under North Carolina law, personal injury claims are subject to a three-year statute of limitations.