Falls And Related Injuries Among Older Canadians: Fall-related Hospitalizations & Prevention Initiatives

A fall by an older adult can have an enduring and devastating impact, resulting in injury, disability, 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 1.6 million seniors who fell at least once in 2010. In 2010, the extrapolated direct hospital costs for fall related injuries are 2.4 billion dollars. By 2026, it is projected that the number of older adults will total of 8.4 million, with an estimated 2.8 million who will experience at least one fall.

The report Falls & Related Injuries among Older Canadians: Fall-related Hospitalizations & Prevention Initiatives, prepared for the Division of Aging and Seniors, Public Health Agency of Canada, is an analysis of the 2008/2009 Canadian hospitalization data for fall-related injuries among persons aged 65 years and older. The analysis is followed by the results of a scan of fall prevention programs across Canada. The appendices to this document include the survey tool used in the scan of programs and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) epidemiological data.

Highlights of the findings include:

  •  In the year 2008/2009, 73,190 Canadians aged 65+ were hospitalized as a result of a fall. This translated to an age-standardized rate of 15.9 per 1,000 seniors.
  • Fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization for seniors in all Canadian provinces and territories, accounting for over 85% of all injury-related hospitalizations.
  • Overall in Canada, fall-related hospitalizations (N = 73,190) comprise 85.4% of all injury- related hospitalizations (N = 85,703) among those aged 65 years and older, with the range among the provinces from the lowest at 73% (Territories) to the highest at 88% (Nova Scotia).
  • Half (49.6%) of falls resulting in hospitalization (N=35,553) occurred in or around the home; falls in residential institutions accounted for 16.5% (N=11,840) of hospitalizations due to falls among those aged 65 and older.
  • In 2008/2009, 35% (N = 18,800) of seniors discharged from a fall-related hospitalization were discharged to continuing care despite the fact that only 16.5% (N = 11,840) of falls leading to hospitalization occurred in continuing care settings.
  • The average acute length of stay for a fall-related injury was 80% longer (16.0 days) across 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.
  • The scan of Canadian fall prevention programs captured 306 fall prevention initiatives across the country, compared to 117 found in the 2001 scan. This is a 150% increase and Fall-related Hospitalizations & Prevention Initiatives reflects a positive trend in the number, scope and variety of fall prevention initiatives in Canada.
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