Objective To describe the cause and nature of injuries, and care-seeking behaviour following injury, among community-dwelling older adults.
Methods We used 10 years of the nationally representative Integrated Health Interview Series data, providing information on individual characteristics, cause and nature of injuries, and care-seeking behaviour for 3074 adults 65 years of age and older. Univariate and bivariate analyses were used to evaluate overall patterns and test for group-level differences.
Results Approximately 40% of injuries were characterised as hip fracture, head injury and/or other fracture, with the remaining 60% consisting of other, milder types of injuries like bruises, strains and sprains. Fifty-eight per cent of injuries required a visit to the emergency room or transportation via an emergency vehicle, and 19% required hospitalisation. Injuries sustained in a fall were more likely to be serious than those due to other reasons. Older women, those ages 80+, those living with others with no spouse or partner present and those with activities of daily living/instrumental activities of daily living disabilities were more vulnerable to serious injuries and serious injury consequences relative to other older adults.
Conclusions Our results suggest that injuries, especially falls, are a pressing public health concern for the growing population of older adults. Injury prevention outreach should take extra measures to reach certain subgroups of older adults that have been identified as especially vulnerable. Because so many injuries are due to reasons other than falling and/or do not result in hospitalisation, more interventions should be designed for general injury prevention and outpatient settings.
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