Falls and injury prevention

Falls and injury prevention

The fall of an older adult can have an enduring and devastating impact, resulting in injury, chronic disease, a reduced quality of life and, in severe cases, death. It is estimated that one in three persons over the age of 65 is likely to fall at least once each year, and in Canada, this translated to approximately 1.4 million seniors who fell at least once in 2005. By 2031, it is projected that older adults will make up 24% of Canada's entire population and approximately $4.4 billion will be spent on direct health care costs for fall-related injuries among this age population.

A report prepared for the Division of Aging and Seniors, Public Health Agency of Canada found that:

  • In the year 2008/2009, 53,545 Canadians aged 65+ were hospitalized for a fall.  This translated to an age-standardized rate of 15.5 per 1,000 seniors.
  • While both males and females have increasing rates of hospitalization by age, females were hospitalized for a fall at a higher rate than for males in comparable age groups.
  • Fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury hospitalization for seniors in all Canadian provinces and territories and comprise between 73% (Territories) and 88% (Nova Scotia) of all injury-related hospitalizations.
  • When compared to all reasons for hospitalization among Canadian seniors, fall-related hospitalizations account for 7.3%, with Newfoundland having the lowest percentage (5.3%) and British Columbia having the highest (8.2%).
  • Over half (51%) of falls resulting in hospitalization (N=27,306) occurred in or around the home; falls in residential institutions accounted for 18% (N=9,462) of hospitalizations due to falls among those aged 65 and older.
  • In Canada, 38% of all seniors who were hospitalized because of a fall had sustained a hip fracture and 39% sustained other types of fractures.
  • The average acute length of stay for a fall-related injury was 70% longer (15.1 days) for Canada as a whole compared to the average length of stay for all other causes of hospitalization excluding falls (8.9 days) in 2008/2009.
  • This scan of Canadian fall prevention programs captured 282 programs across the country.