Injuries are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly and are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States for all persons aged 65 years and older. The contemporary model of injury prevention and control is based on the concept that the event leading to the injury is distinct from the injury itself. Injuries can be prevented by altering the precipitating event, changing the impact of the event on the individual, or modifying the environment. Passive injury prevention strategies, such as modifications in the environment or product design, are generally the most successful. Active injury prevention strategies that require an individual to change their behavior are more prone to failure.
The leading causes of injuries in the elderly are a diverse group of events including falls, motor vehicle accidents (see Chapter 48), fires and burns, poisoning, choking, and environmental exposures. Falls are the most frequent cause of injuries in older adults accounting for 61% of nonfatal injuries and 40% of fatalities. Motor vehicle accidents are the second most common cause for injury and death outside the home in the elderly. Most nonvehicular injuries occur within the home environment. Rates of home injury–related death increase with advancing age, rising from 7 per 100,000 in those aged 60–69 years to 48 per 100,000 in those aged 80 years and older. Fire-and burn-related injuries are the second most common cause of death in the home, followed by poisoning and choking.
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