CDC: Fall Deaths Increase among U.S. Adults Aged 75 Years or Older

Jun 12, 2019

A letter published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that the number of fall deaths among U.S. adults aged 75 years or older almost tripled from 2000 to 2016. The study analyzed nationally representative vital statistics data and found that the rate of fall deaths increased among all age groups, but increased the most among the oldest age group.

Key findings were that:

  • Fall deaths increased substantially from 8,613 in 2000 to 25,189 in 2016.
  • Age-adjusted mortality rates among adults aged 75 years and older increased significantly.
    • For men, from approximately 61 per 100,000 in 2000 to 116 per 100,000 in 2016.
    • For women during that time, the increase was from more than 46 per 100,000 women to 106 per 100,000.

Falls result in increased injuries, deaths, and healthcare costs, but are preventable. CDC’s STEADI initiative offers a coordinated approach to implementing the American and British Geriatrics Societies’ clinical practice guideline for fall prevention. STEADI consists of three core elements: Screen, Assess, and Intervene to reduce fall risk by giving older adults tailored strategies.

Psychoactive Medication Use among Older Community-Dwelling Americans

A recently published CDC article in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association (JAPhA) found that in 2013 more than half of all older Americans used at least one psychoactive medication known to increase the risk of falls. The most frequently used medication classes were opioids, benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and anticonvulsants. Medication use is considerably higher than previous reports from 1996 using the same data source. Among most psychoactive medication classes observed, women had higher usage than men did.

Healthcare providers including pharmacists play a vital role in managing older adults’ exposure to psychoactive medications. Medication management can optimize health and reduce older adult falls.

Additional Resources:

  • Stand STEADI Videos – See how healthcare providers and public health professionals across the country are using STEADI in clinical practice.
  • Coordinated Care PlanOffers primary care providers, practices, and healthcare systems a framework for implementing a STEADI-based, clinical fall prevention program to manage their older patients’ fall risk.
  • Evaluation GuideDescribes key steps to measuring and reporting on the success of implementing a STEADI-based clinical fall prevention program.