Societal Consequences of Falls in the Older Population: Injuries, Healthcare Costs, and Long-Term Reduced Quality of Life

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Abstract

Background:

Fall incidents are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults. The aim of this cohort study was to determine the incidence, costs, and quality of life for fall-related injuries in the older Dutch population presenting at the emergency department.

Methods:

Data on fall-related injuries in persons aged 65 years or older were retrieved from the Dutch Injury Surveillance System, which records injuries treated at the emergency department, and a patient follow-up survey conducted between 2003 and 2007. Injury incidence, discharge rates, healthcare costs, and quality of life measures were calculated.

Results:

Fall-related injuries were to the upper or lower limb in 70% of cases and consisted mainly of fractures (60%), superficial injuries (21%), and open wounds (8%). Falls led to a total healthcare cost of €474.4 million, which represents 21% of total healthcare expenses due to injuries. Both admitted and nonadmitted patients reported a reduced quality of life up to 9 months after the injury.

Conclusions:

Fall-related injuries in older adults are age and gender related, leading to high healthcare consumption, costs, and long-term reduced quality of life. Further implementation of falls prevention strategies is needed to control the burden of fall-related injuries in the aging population.

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