Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. As the population of older adults grows, falls and related injuries will also increase. However, falls are not inevitable. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of falling and prevent injury.
In 2021, there were about 71,000 falls in Minnesota. Falls among adults 55 and older caused around 1200 deaths, making Minnesota the fourth in the nation on deaths of older adults from falls.
Falls can be very costly. According to the CDC, falls among older adults cost Minnesota more than $700 million in 2014.
Falls in Minnesota
Figure 1. Minnesota Hospital-treated Falls, ages 55+, 2018-2022
Since 2018, the number of hospital-treated falls has increased, except for a drop in 2020, which was likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and people not seeking care. Falls and fall-related deaths are increasing each year in Minnesota. Fall-related deaths have increased by 16% between 2020 and 2021 and will continue to rise as the population ages.
Minnesota Hospital-treated Falls in 2022 by Age
Figure 2 shows how many falls occurred in different age groups in 2022. Hospitals treated more falls in older age groups, and patients were more likely to be female. Adults ages 85 and older were the most likely to be treated in hospital for a fall.
The most common cause of falls is slipping or tripping. Falls risk assessments and home visits can identify factors that can be changed to reduce falls risk.
Read Deaths due to falls among Minnesota adults aged 65 years and older (PDF) for more data on falls among older adults.
Reduce the risk of falling
Falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented.
- Talk to a health care provider if you are concerned about falling.
- Encourage loved ones to take action to reduce their fall risk.
- Stay active. Moving your body can help you stay strong and improve your balance, which lowers the chance of falling.
- Enjoy healthy foods. Proper nutrition can help keep your muscles strong. Having low levels of some nutrients, such as vitamin D or calcium, can contribute to osteoporosis – or weak bones – making falls more harmful.
- Identify and fix potential fall hazards in your home, such as adding hand bars in the bathroom and keeping floors free of clutter.
- Follow the treatment plan for any existing conditions you have. Some may increase your risk of falling. For example, impaired vision may make it harder to see where you are walking, and some medications for other conditions can cause dizziness, making it harder to balance.
Health care providers
- Health care providers can invest in physical activity promotion and recommend evidence-based interventions for their patients.
- Falls prevention programs and increased physical activity can help improve strength and balance to prevent falls. Falls risk assessments and home visits can also identify factors that can be changed to reduce falls risk.
- The STEADI Initiative (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) offers several resources and tools to help providers assess risk, talk to patients about falls, and make appropriate referrals. The STEADI-Rx guide can help pharmacists identify medication-related risks.
Use CDC’s Preventing Falls: A Guide to Implementing Effective Community-Based Fall Prevention Programs toolkit to find opportunities to reduce falls in your community. Community organizations, leaders, advocacy groups, social services and health care can work together to provide protective factors and supports that address the biological, behavioral, and environmental risks for falls.
- Visit CDC: Keep on Your Feet—Preventing Oder Adults Falls and National Institute on Aging: Falls and Fractures in Older Adults for more information and tips to stay safe and prevent injury from falls.
- The Minnesota Board on Aging offers several resources and links to a risk check-up that can help you assess your own risk for a fall.
- Preventing Falls at Home: Room by Room outlines potential falls risk factors within your living space and how to adjust them.
- Area Agencies on Aging are regional organizations that provide services and supports for aging adults and their families. Find one near you to connect to resources and classes that can help prevent falls.
- Senior Linkage Line: 800-333-2433
- Learn more about senior health care coverage options from the Department of Human Services.