FALLS – OLDER ADULTS
Falls are the leading cause of injury‐related deaths and hospitalizations for adults aged 65 years and older in BC. 1
Falls have both a human impact and a monetary impact. Falls cost British Columbian older adults $567 million in 2019.4
The outcome of most falls among older adults is minor, but 10 to 15% of falls result in serious injuries, including broken bones and brain injuries.5 Falls can lead to admissions to long-term care facilities and reduced quality of life.6 For older adults who sustain a hip fracture, 30% die within the following year, and 50% lose mobility and independence.7, 8
One of the strongest predictors of a future fall is a past fall—even a fall resulting in minor harm needs to be taken seriously.
BCIRPU supports fall prevention efforts at the policy, practice, and community levels. Fall prevention for older adults is one of the provincial priorities for injury prevention. Learn more about our work in fall prevention.
Falls are predictable and preventable. Fall prevention should focus on promoting independence and activity, and include the older adults and their networks of support (e.g., family, friends, caregivers).
Reduce fall risk and maintain independence:
- Exercise to increase strength and balance: Older adults with strong muscles and good balance are less likely to fall.
- Annual optometrist examinations: Good vision can reduce the risk of falling.
- Annual medication review with a doctor or pharmacist: Some medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or poor balance.
- Remove tripping hazards in the home and install supports as needed: Tripping hazards, such as cords, loose rugs, and piles of magazines and books are often overlooked but easy to fix. Physical supports can help avoid falls, such as grab bars in the bathroom.
Finding Balance BC is a provincial effort to educate older adults and their caregivers with the latest fall prevention information. Learn more at findingbalancebc.ca.
According to Statistics Canada, British Columbia has one of the most rapidly aging populations in Canada. By 2031, almost one in four people in BC (over 1.3 million) will be 65 years of age and older. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and...
2. Joshi, A., Rajabali, F., Turcotte, K., Beaton, M. D., & Pike, I. (2019). Fall-related deaths among older adults in British Columbia: cause and effect of policy change. Injury prevention, injuryprev-2019. https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2019/08/29/injuryprev-2019-043280.full Average 2011 to 2017, there were a total of 7163 deaths where fall was an identified CCD.
3. Data Source: Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), Ministry of Health, BCIRPU Injury Data Online Tool, 2010/2011 to 2016/2017.
4. Rajabali F, Ibrahimova A, Barnett B, Pike I. (2015). Economic Burden of Injury in British Columbia. BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit: Vancouver, BC. Cost converted to 2019 dollars with CPI. Includes: Cost of deaths, hospitalized treatment, emergency department visits, and permanent disability. Available from: https://www.injuryresearch.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/BCIRPU-EB-2015.pdf
5. Scott V, Wagar L, Elliott S. (2010). Falls & Related Injuries among Older Canadians: Fall-related Hospitalizations & Prevention Initiatives. Prepared on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of Aging and Seniors. Victoria, BC. Victoria Scott Consulting.
6. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. (2009). Preventing falls and harm from falls in older people: Best practice guidelines for Australian community care. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Commonwealth Government.
7. Data Source: Discharge Abstract Database (DAD), Ministry of Health, BC Injury Data Online Tool, 2009/2010 to 2016/2017.
8. Nowak A, Hubbard RE. (2009 Mar). Falls and frailty: lessons from complex systems. J R Soc Med, 102(3): 98–102.