Rising incidence of fall-induced injuries among elderly adults
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Aim and methods
Fall-induced injuries in older people are a major public health concern in modern societies with aging populations. Despite this, very little is known about the population trends in these injuries and long-term follow-ups are lacking. Our aim was to determine the current trends in the number and incidence (per 100,000 persons) of fall-induced injuries in older adults in Finland, an EU country with a well-defined white population of 5.2 million, taking into account all persons 80 years of age or older who were admitted to our hospitals for primary treatment of a first fall injury over the period 1970–2002.
The number of fall-induced injuries in elderly Finns increased considerably between the years 1970 and 2002: from 1,139 to 11,835 overall (a 10.4-fold rise), and from 927 to 9346 in women (a 10.1-fold rise) and from 212 to 2489 in men (an 11.7-fold rise). In both genders, the age-adjusted incidence of fall-induced injuries also increased during the study period, the incidence being 2711 (women) and 1441 (men) in 1970, and 6681 (women) and 4726 (men) in 2002. Assuming that the observed relatively linear development in the incidence rates of fall-induced injuries in elderly Finnish people continues and that the size of this population increases as predicted, the annual number of Finns aged 80 years or older experiencing a fall-induced injury can be estimated to increase further steeply during the coming three decades, from the above-noted 11,835 to about 42,500 in the year 2030 (a 3.6-fold rise).
The number of fall-induced injuries among elderly Finns shows an alarming rise with a rate that cannot be explained merely by demographic changes. Wide-scale preventive measures should be urgently adopted to control the rising burden of these injuries.
Key wordsEpidemiology Fall-induced injuries Older adults Time trends
The authors thank the following organizations for financial support of the study: the Medical Research Fund of Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland, the Juho Vainio Foundation, Paulo Foundation, and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Heath, Helsinki, Finland.
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