Older Adult Falls

Injuries and fatalities from falls steadily increase with age and peak among those aged 85 and older. Not surprisingly, research shows that older individuals who require mobility assistive devices like canes and walkers are at especially high risk for falls. Compared with older individuals who do not use assistive devices, users are 11 times more likely (odds ratio 12.0) to report a fall in the last three months and are six times more likely (odds ratio 7.1) to report that they limit walking outside due to concerns about falling.

Use the interactive chart to explore preventable fall deaths, injuries and rates by age and sex.

Source: National Safety Council tabulations of National Center for Health Statistics data. Fatality data is based on death certificates while nonfatal data reflect estimates of emergency department visits.

  • Chart
  • Data Table
How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

Preventing older adult falls

A review of 54 randomized clinical trials has found that the combination of exercise and vision assessment and treatment likely has the strongest association with decreasing fall injuries among older adults. A recent CDC study assessing the cost-benefit analysis of three older adult fall-prevention programs identified a positive return on investment for all three programs; The three programs demonstrated that the cost of decreased direct medical costs was greater than the costs associated with implementing the program. Two of these programs, that focused either on Tai Chi or improving balance, when administered to persons age 80 and older, both resulted in return on investment greater than 100%. A similar study found that adults who consistently participate in exercise programs such as EnhanceFitness can reduce their risk of experiencing a medically treated fall by 20% to 30%. EnhancedFitness is an evidence-based, community-based group exercise intervention funded by CDC.