Cost of Fall Injuries in Older Persons in the United States
In the next 13 seconds, an older adult will be treated in a hospital emergency department for injuries related to a fall. In the next 20 minutes, an older adult will die from injuries from 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 fallen, become afraid of falling and limit 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 2013, the direct medical costs of falls among older adults, adjusted for inflation, were over $34 billlion. 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
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.
Total Lifetime Medical Costs of Unintentional Nonfatal Fall-Related Injuries in People 65 Years and Older Treated in Emergency Departments & Released, By Sex and Age, United States, 2005
Total Lifetime Medical Costs of Unintentional Nonfatal Fall-Related Injuries in People 65 Years and Older Treated in Emergency Departments & Hospitalized, By Sex and Age, United States, 2005
Medical costs for falls treated in emergency departments (ED) in 2005 in people 65 years and older totaled $6.3 billion—$451 million for patients who were treated and released and $5.8 billion for patients who were subsequently hospitalized.
People under age 70 were more likely to be treated and released than people aged 70+, and the likelihood of being hospitalized increased with age. Medical costs for fall injuries were consistently higher for women, regardless of age, both for patients who were treated and released and for those who were subsequently hospitalized.
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 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.