The older people become, the frailer their bodies are. When injuries or illnesses occur, they do not recover as quickly as others. In some cases, they do not recover at all. Because of this, many adult children worry about their older parents falling.
The CDC reports that that falls are the number one cause of deaths related to injuries for people 65 years and older. It also reports that from 2007 to 2016, fatal falls increased by 31% for this age group. Researchers found this increase in D.C. and 30 states.
There are also some demographic differences to consider. People who were 85 years and older experienced an even faster-growing fatal fall rate. Wisconsin was the state with the highest fatal fall rate at 142.7 per 100,000 people.
Another difference is that elderly Whites are more likely to suffer fatal falls than any other racial or ethnic group. Researchers believe this might explain why the fatal fall rate is highest in Wisconsin versus the lowest rates in Alabama.
Alabama is more ethnically and racially diverse. The state’s fatal fall rate was 24.4 per 100,000 people. Men also have higher rates of fatal falls, while women have higher rates of nonfatal falls.
Fall response recommendations
When an elderly person suffers a fall, the National Institute on Aging recommends that they take a few deep breaths and remain calm. Next, they should try to see if they are hurt before attempting to move.
If there is no one around to help, they should roll onto their sides, rest for a few moments and then crawl to a sturdy chair if one is available. If there is no chair available and no one is around, call for help. Elderly people who have access to a phone should also consider calling 911.
Remaining calm is important after a fall as sudden movements can make an injury worse. It could also lead to slipping a second time if there are specific hazards, such as oil, water or ice.