Facts About Falls

At a glance

Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls are serious and costly

  • One out of 10 falls results in an injury that causes the older adult to restrict their activities for a day or more or to seek attention from the healthcare system.1
  • Each year, there are about 3 million emergency department visits due to older people falls.2
  • Each year, there are about 1 million fall-related hospitalizations among older adults.2
  • In 2019, 83% percent of hip fracture deaths and 88% of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for hip fractures were caused by falls.3
  • Each year, nearly 319,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.3
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).4

Conditions that make you more likely to fall

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:5

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your body)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers, such as:
    • Broken or uneven steps
    • Throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Healthcare providers can help cut down a person's risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above with fall prevention interventions in both clinical and community settings.

After a fall

Many falls do not cause injuries. While not all falls result in an injury, about 37% of those who fall reported an injury that required medical treatment or restricted their activity for at least one day.5 These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.6
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don't have a brain injury.7
  • Many people who fall, even if they're not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.8


For more information about how you can prevent falls, check out CDC's STEADI resources for older adults.

These resources include:

Related Pages

  1. Bergen G, Stevens M, Kakara, R, Burns, ER, Understanding Modifiable and Unmodifiable Older Adult Fall Risk Factors to Create Effective Prevention Strategies. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2021;15(6):580–589. DOI: 10.1177/1559827619880529.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  3. Moreland B, Legha J, Thomas K, Burns ER. Hip Fracture-related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Mechanism of Injury Among Adults Aged 65 and Older, United States 2019. Journal of Aging and Health. 2023 Jun;35(5–6):345–355. DOI: 10.1177/08982643221132450.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Surveillance Report of Traumatic Brain Injury-related Hospitalizations and Deaths by Age Group, Sex, and Mechanism of Injury—United States, 2016 and 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  5. Moreland, B, Kakara, R, & Henry, A. Trends in Nonfatal Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among Adults Aged≥ 65 Years—United States, 2012–2018. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2020 Jul 10;69(27):875–881. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr6927a5.
  6. Haddad Y, Shakya I, Moreland B, Kakara R, Bergen G. Injury Diagnosis and Affected Body Part for Nonfatal Fall-related Injuries in Community-dwelling Older Adults Treated in Emergency Departments. Journal of Aging and Health (AJH), June 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0898264320932045.
  7. American College of Emergency Physicians Clinical Policies Subcommittee (Writing Committee) on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, Valente JH, Anderson JD, et al. Clinical Policy: Critical Issues in the Management of Adult Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Approved by ACEP Board of Directors, February 1, 2023 Clinical Policy Endorsed by the Emergency Nurses Association (April 5, 2023). Ann Emerg Med. 2023;81(5):e63-e105. DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2023.01.014.
  8. Vellas BJ, Wayne SJ, Romero LJ, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ. Fear of falling and restriction of mobility in elderly fallers. Age Ageing. 1997 May;26(3):189–193. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/26.3.189.