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Prevalence of self-reported falls increases since 1998 in adults over 65

The prevalence among adults 65 years or older of falling in the preceding two years has increased since 1998, according to a research letter published online by .

Falling, the most frequent cause of injury in in the United States, leads to substantial disability and mortality. Studies have suggested about one-third of fall each year, according to study background information.

, M.D., M.P.H., of the , Ann Arbor, and coauthors looked at time trends in falling in a nationally representative sample of middle-aged and older adults in the Health and Retirement Study. Falling was defined as at least one fall in the preceding two years. The authors hypothesized that any increase in prevalence would be due to changes in the age structure of the population.

Study results show that among all adults 65 years or older, the two-year prevalence of self-reported falls increased from 28.2 percent in 1998 to 36.3 percent in 2010.

“Contrary to our hypothesis, we observed an increase in fall prevalence among older adults that exceeds what would be expected owing to the increasing age of the population. Programs such as Matter of Balance focus on making older adults aware of balance and fall risk and provide strategies to reduce fall risk; these programs may improve reporting. Alternatively, if a true increase in falling is occurring, then further research is needed to identify possible reasons, such as an increase in fall risk factors (e.g., cardiovascular and psychiatric medications) or an increase in fall risk behavior,” the study concludes.


The Epidemiologic Data on Falls, 1998-2010 More Older Americans Report Falling, Christine T. Cigolle, MD, MPH; Jinkyung Ha, PhD; Lillian C. Min, MD, MSHS; Pearl G. Lee, MD, MS; Tanya R. Gure, MD; Neil B. Alexander, MD, MS; Caroline S. Blaum, MD, MS, JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7533, published online 19 January 2015.

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