Health & Medicine

This type of injury affects thousands of Sacramento seniors each year

Neal Peek, 82, sits on his walker as he waits to make and appointment at Sutter Physical Therapy in Davis in this 2011 file photo. Peek injured himself during a fall.
Neal Peek, 82, sits on his walker as he waits to make and appointment at Sutter Physical Therapy in Davis in this 2011 file photo. Peek injured himself during a fall. rbyer@sacbee.com

The number of elderly in the Sacramento region visiting emergency rooms after an injury caused by a fall has more than doubled in the last 10 years, new state figures show.

About 16,800 seniors in the four-county area visited emergency rooms last year after a fall, up from 7,800 ER visits in 2007, according to the data, which is collected by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Falls are the leading cause of death by injury among seniors. About 785 seniors in the four-county area died after a fall between 2011 and 2015, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risk of death and serious injury from falls increases dramatically with age.

About 12 out of every 100,000 local seniors between 65 and 75 died from falls each year between 2011 and 2015, CDC data show. But among seniors older 85, the local death rate each year was 227 per 100,000 seniors.

More very old residents can mean more serious injuries from falls. About 47,000 residents in the four-county area are 85 or older, up about 40 percent from 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More very old residents can mean more serious injuries from falls.

To reduce injuries from falls, the National Council on Aging recommends that seniors receive regular eye checks, review medications that make them dizzy and maintain a home with good lighting and secure rails alongside stairs and in bathrooms.

Phillip Reese is The Bee's data specialist and teaches at Sacramento State. Reach him at 916-321-1137 or 916-278-5420.

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