Fall and its impact on senior citizens.



key facts.

  • When it comes to accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide, falls take the second place.
  • About 424000 individuals die from falls globally  over 80% of these are in low and middle-income countries.
  •  Every year 37.3  million falls are so severe that they require medical attention.
  • In adults over 65 these falls could be fatal.
  • Prevention is possible through creating safe environments.

a fall is defined as an event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level.

the fall could be severe enough to require medical  treatment there are chances of it being fatal particularly in people over 65. In younger individual there have cases of permanent disability, or hospitalization resulting in missing work or school.

Globally it is estimated that 424000 fatal occurs each year, this makes it the second  only to accidents in unintentional cause of death. The incidences seem to higher in people over 60, this could be due to undiagnosed pathologic fracture in the hip bone, or impaired ability to balance. Though young adults and children make 37.3 million of the fall related injuries, they are less fatal, though chances of disability-adjusted life (DALY)  could be a fall out. Fall is responsible for 40% of the 17 million DALY’s

Risk demography:

While  everyone who falls do risk injury, the age, gender, health and circumstances of the fall, affect the type and severity of the injury. Age: is one key factor.  The risk of severity increases with age. This could be due to cognitive changes associated with ageing, in addition to the social environment, not being adapted to ensure the safety of the aging population. Gender: though both the genders are at equal risk to fall, it has been noted that men are more likely to die from a fall, while women suffer less fatal falls.  Older women and younger children display increased injury severity, though DALY’s and death are more in men.

Other factors are:

  • Occupations at hazardous conditions like elevated heights.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Underlying neurologic, cardiac or other disabling conditions this is more in senior citizens.
  • Adverse effects of medication and physical in medications, physical inactivity and loss of balance this more in senior citizens.


Would involve comprehensive and multifaceted strategies. Research and public health initiatives would be required to explore variable factors  causing the fall. There is a need to create safer environments and reduce risk factors.

screening  living spaces and areas of social interaction this would require active involvement of engineers.

Clinical interventions to identify risk factors like low blood pressure, vitamin D supplement, calcium supplement, correction of visual impairment. Review of medication periodically are necessary.

Home assessment and environment modification for those with known risk factors or a history of falling is a must.

Appropriate devices that assist to  address the physical and sensory impairments are essential.

Muscle strengthening and balance retraining can be prescribed and conducted by health professionals.

Hip protectors for these at risk of a hip fracture due to a fall.

Falls are the second largest cause of  unintentional death and responsible for 40% of DALYs so creating awareness and prompt and adequate treatment is mandatory.

For more information contact:

WHO Media centre
Telephone: +41 22 791 2222
E-mail: mediainquiries@who.int



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