Common Causes of Injuries Among Older Adults

Senior couple driving a car

Injuries among older adults are becoming an increasingly severe health concern. As the population ages, the number and severity of injuries suffered by adults 65 and older will continue to rise. And when people in this age group are injured, they are at an increased risk for health complications that require additional medical care and treatment and may even result in hospitalization and a lengthy stay in a nursing home.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), falls and motor vehicle crashes are among the top 10 most common causes of injuries to adults aged 65 and older. When older adults fall or are involved in a motor vehicle collision, they are at increased risk of suffering severe injuries such as broken bones, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. While these types of injuries are always serious, they are of particular concern to people over age 65.

Fall Injuries

Every year, 36 million falls occur among adults age 65 and older. Twenty percent of these falls result in serious injuries such as a broken bone, a head injury, or a traumatic brain injury. Over 950,000 adults are hospitalized because of a fall every year, often due to a head injury or a hip fracture, and 32,000 people die every year because of injuries sustained in a fall.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

In 2019, there were more than 46 million licensed drivers over age 65. While driving allows older adults to remain independent, they are at increased risk of being involved in a motor vehicle collision and suffering serious injuries or even death.

Physical and mental changes make driving more dangerous for adults over age 65. As we age, our vision and ability to reason and remember declines. People over age 65 are also more likely to suffer from other medical conditions that make driving more difficult, and more risky. Adults over 65 may be taking medications for heart disease, dementia, or to combat sleep disorders. They may also have hearing or vision limitations. These factors make driving an increasingly risky activity. CDC statistics reveal that older adults are involved in 1.6 million crashes every year, leading to 250,000 emergency room visits, 68,000 hospitalizations, and 8,000 deaths.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is of particular concern for older adults. According to the CDC, adults over 65 have the highest rate of hospitalizations and death due to TBI.

Falls and motor vehicle collisions are the most common causes of TBI among older adults. Someone who experiences a TBI may face lifelong health problems, including problems related to thinking and memory, movement, sleep, disruptions to vision or hearing, and changes in emotional functioning such as changes in personality or depression.

Preventing Injuries Among Older Adults

Falls, motor vehicle accidents, and traumatic brain injury are among the most common injuries suffered by Americans over 65, and they can have a devastating effect. Fortunately, there are preventative measures we can take to minimize the risk of injury as we age.

  • Manage medications. While prescription and non-prescription medications can help treat many common medical conditions, they also come with risks. Before taking a medication, it is important to understand its potential side effects and, to the extent possible, limit its use.
  • Increased Physical Activity. Staying mentally and physically active as we age is incredibly important. People who remain active live longer, healthier lives. Make choices that keep your body moving, such as walking, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, walking the dog, gardening, or doing yoga.
  • Home Safety Evaluations. Have an expert evaluate your living environment to identify and correct potential hazards that could contribute to falls. Common hazards include rugs and a lack of grab rails in bathrooms.
  • Motor vehicle safety. Practice safe behaviors when riding in a motor vehicle, whether as the driver or passenger. Wearing a seatbelt will decrease the severity of any injuries sustained if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. Avoid driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medications that can make you drowsy. You can also talk to your doctor to assess your driving safety and ask for recommendations for safe driving tips for seniors.

Avoiding Injuries in Nursing Homes

When older adults do suffer an injury, they are at an increased risk of being hospitalized or even placed in a nursing home. If someone you love is placed in a nursing home, even temporarily, it is important to remain vigilant to reduce the chance of an accident and avoid the most common causes of nursing home injuries during your stay.

Nursing home staff should individually assess each resident to address their risk of being injured while in the nursing home. The facility should educate staff members regarding patient risk and develop strategies to prevent injuries from occurring. The nursing home should minimize the use of sedative medications, as these can increase the risk of injury. And the nursing home should encourage residents to participate in activities and exercise programs.

Robenalt Law: Personal Injury Lawyers Fighting for You

If you were injured because of a fall, a motor vehicle collision, or in a nursing home, Robenalt Law can help. We will analyze the cause of your injuries, identify who was responsible, and fight to hold them accountable.

Our lawyers are available to meet with you to answer your questions. Contact us or call (216) 223-7535 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how Robenalt Law can help.