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Falls – Older Adults (Seniors, Elders)

Florida Seniors Face Real Danger in Fall Injuries

Florida is second only to the State of California in having the largest number of elderly citizens, and Florida leads the country in having the most elders as part of its general population (19% of Florida’s population is over the age of 65 years).

For these Floridians, the danger of a fall impacting their health and altering their future is very real. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that falls are the number one cause of injury in people over the age of 65 years, and many of these injuries are serious as they result in fractures to arms, legs, shoulders or even more serious, spinal cords, pelvis or hips, as well as traumatic brain injuries.

According to the State of Florida Department of Health, falls are the number one cause of death for Floridians over the age of 65. From their research comes the following graphic table:



Hip Fractures are a Serious Danger for Seniors Who Suffer a Fall Injury

From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • 1 out of 3 Americans over the age of 65 will suffer a fall this year
  • Over 90% of hip fractures are caused by an elderly person falling
  • Over 75% of hip fractures in the United States are suffered by women
  • Only 25% of hip fracture patients make a full recovery
  • 20% of those suffering a hip fracture will die within one year of their fall
  • Half of those over the age of 65 years who suffer a hip fracture will forever after need a cane or walker as support when walking
  • 40% of those over 65 years old who suffer a hip fracture will need nursing home care

Falls in Nursing Homes – A Special Danger

A very serious concern for elders are those who suffer falls while residing in a Nursing Home. According to the CDC, around 1800 elders pass away each year from injuries suffered after a fall in their nursing home. From their research:

  • In 2003, 1.5 million people 65+ lived in nursing homes. The number of residents is expected to double by 2030.
  • While only 5% of adults 65+ live in nursing homes, around 30% of falling-related deaths each year happen to nurse home residents.
  • Many nursing home falls are not reported to the authorities.
  • The rate of falls for elders residing in nursing homes is twice that of elders living in other places within the same community.
  • Nursing home residents are prone to suffering more than one fall.
  • Nursing home residents statistically suffer 2.6 falls in a single year.
  • Over a third (35%) of nursing home fall injuries happen to nursing home residents who are not able to walk.

The most common causes of nursing home falls are:

  1. Muscle weakness or physical gait issues (24%)
  2. Surrounding hazards in the environment like wet floors, faulty wheelchairs, etc. (16% – 27%)
  3. Such hazards include wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.

Falls at Home Also Are Serious Risk for Those Over Age 65

For those seniors over the age of 65 years that reside at home, the danger of serious injury due to a fall is also a risk that increases with age. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) studies show:

  1. 55% of fall injuries of those elder persons living at home happen inside the house
  2. 23% of fall injuries for those elder persons living at home happen outside the home but near to it (yard, garage, etc.)
  3. 22% of the fall injuries suffered by those over the age of 65 that live at home occur away from their house
  4. Most of these fall happened on the ground level (43%)
  5. 14% involved stairs (steps)
  6. 11% were falls from curbs on on sidewalks
  7. 9% of these falling injuries resulted from a fall from a piece of furniture (bed, etc.)
  8. 4% happened in the bathroom (shower, bath, toilet)
  9. 59% were attributed to slips, trips, or stumbles
  10. 22% were attributed to dizziness, loss of balance, seizures, or fainting

Miami-Dade County Tracking of Fall-Related Injuries for Those Over 65 Years Old

The Department of Health for the Miami area’s Miami-Dade County has kept records on non-intentional falling injuries that occur within its county boundaries and from 2007-2009 data, the following zip codes report the highest number of senior fall injuries:

1. The zip code 33030 which represent sections of Homestead.
2. The zip code 33182 which represents a section of unincorporated Miami-Dade west of Doral.
3. The zip code 33136 which represents sections of Little Havana in the City of Miami.
4. The zip code 33166 which represents the communities of Miami Springs and Medley.

Below is a map provided by Miami-Dade County that demonstrates fall injury dangers by geographical location: