To help raise awareness about some of the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths among older adults, federal regulators have launched a new campaign designed to highlight the prevalence of these preventable injuries.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a press release late last week to announce the launch of a new campaign, “Still Going Strong”, which focuses on common injuries of adults (age 65 and older).
In the latest issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers indicated about 60,000 adults aged 65 or older die every year from unintentional injuries. This included 34,000 elderly fall deaths, 8,000 traffic accident fatalities, and 3,000 drug poisoning deaths in 2019. Additionally, more than 9,000 suicide deaths are reported among this group of adults in the U.S. every year, the report found.
Older adults had more than 2.4 million emergency room visits and 700,000 hospitalizations related to injuries from falls, car crashes, opioid overdoses, and self-harm in 2018, according to the CDC. Falls accounted for over 90% of the ER visits and hospitalizations.
The most common fatal and nonfatal injuries were older adults falls. The CDC indicates an older adult falls every second, which accounts for 36 million falls each year. One in five of those falls causes serious injury.
Car accidents are another major contributor to preventable injuries among older adults, the CDC indicates. Older adults make up over 46 million licensed drivers in the United States. Every day about 700 older adults are injured in a car accident, and 22 die due to those injuries.
The CDC campaign encourages older adults to continue their favorite hobbies and activities, but seeks to inform them and their caretakers about how to do so safely to prevent the most common and avoidable injuries. The CDC recommends older adults take simple steps to maintain their independence and mobility, such as talking to their health care providers about preventing falls and car crashes, removing throw rugs to make their home safer, and always wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in a vehicle.
The CDC also notes that friends, family, and caregivers can make a difference by helping in their daily lives by driving them places, making sure their house is safe, and other safety maintaining solutions. Healthcare providers should also help by asking about concerns with their older adult patients driving or other issues like potential falls and seeing if there is a solution.
“Experiencing injuries doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging; many injuries that are common in older adults can be prevented,” Dr. Debra Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in the press release. “We know that injuries and deaths from falls and motor vehicle crashes are increasing in older adults. We hope Still Going Strong will help inform our audience about simple steps they can do to prevent injuries and their lasting effects.”