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Cost of Fall Injuries in Older Persons in the United States, 2005

In the next 17 seconds, an older adult will be treated in a hospital emergency department for injuries related to a fall. In the next 30 minutes, an older adult will die from injuries sustained in a fall. Falls are the leading cause of injury among adults aged 65 years and older in the United States, and can result in severe injuries such as hip fractures and head traumas. Many older adults, even if they have not suffered a fall, become afraid of falling and restrict their activity, which drastically decreases their quality of life. As the U.S. population ages, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries are likely to increase. In 2000, falls among older adults cost the U.S. health care system over $19 billion, or $23.6 billion in 2005 dollars. Having information on the economic burden of older adult falls can help make the case to fund prevention programs and reduce overall health care costs.

Total Lifetime Medical Costs of Unintentional Fatal Fall-Related Injuries* in People 65 Years and Older By Sex and Age, United States, 2005

Bar chart showing total lifetime medical costs of fatal fall-related injuries in people aged 65 years and older. Data by sex and age, United States, 2005. Total cost for men = $160 million; total cost for women = $189 million. People ages 85 and older have the highest costs.

  • The cost of fatal fall injuries totaled $349 million: $160 million for men and $189 million for women. Costs were similar for men and women until age 85, when the costs for women ($105 million) exceeded those of men ($62 million).

*Lifetime medical costs refer to the medical costs (treatment and rehabilitation) associated with the fatal injury event.

See related pages for more cost data


Cost estimates comprise total lifetime medical (e.g., medical treatment, rehabilitation) costs by value of the dollar in 2005. Further details on the definitions of these costs and methods for calculating unit cost estimates for nonfatal ED-treated and released injuries are provided in a methods report by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Estimates presented here show an incomplete picture of the medical cost of fall-related injury for older persons to society, because the focus is only on nonfatal fall-related injuries where patients were treated in an ED and released and the medical consequence. For instance, medical costs for fall-related injury deaths, nonfatal hospitalizations, outpatient visits, and physician office visits are not included. Other costs to society that extend beyond the medical consequences also are not included in these estimates. Those costs include, but are not limited to, disability, work loss, mental/emotional anguish of surviving family member or co-workers, property damage, lowered property values, community fear, law enforcement, judicial, and litigation costs. Cost estimates are based on 2005 U.S. prices. They reflect costs that are representative of economic characteristics nationally, and represent the most current data available at the time unit cost estimates were calculated. There is now a new Cost of Injury Reports module in CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, which allows for computing cost estimates on fatal and nonfatal injuries for many different causes and types of injuries.



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