Falls are the leading injury-related cause of death and of medical care use among Californians ages 65 and over. In 2012, there were 1,819 deaths due to falls among older Californians. More than 72,000 hospitalizations were caused by fall injuries among older adults during that year, along with more than 185,000 emergency department (ED) visits. The medical costs alone of falls in the state have been estimated to be over $2 billion annually.
Those who have fallen more than once are at the highest risk of injury and further falls. Data from the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Survey show that 12.6 percent of older Californians, or 556,000 individuals, had fallen more than once during the past year. Very few of those experiencing multiple falls discussed how to reduce their risk with a health professional.
This policy brief details the characteristics of older Californians who have repeated falls, their health care use, and the actions they can take to reduce the risk of future falls. It also provides policy suggestions for reducing the risk of falls among older Californians and decreasing the costs to the medical care system.