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Injuries among older adults: the challenge of optimizing safety and minimizing unintended consequences


Objectives: To describe the problem of falls, motor vehicle related injuries, and suicide among older adults, and issues related to their prevention.

Methods: Summary and synthesis of selected literature.

Results: About 39 000 adults aged 65 and older die each year in the United States from injuries; worldwide this annual toll is about 946 000 persons. The top three causes of injury related death in this age goup in the United State are falls, those related to motor vehicle crashes, and suicide. Effective strategies exist for preventing fall related injuries and deaths. Preventing injuries and deaths from motor vehicles and suicide may be more difficult because of the nature of these problems.

Conclusions: As the number and percentage of older adults continues to rise in the United States and globally, new approaches to preventing injuries will be critical. Interventions will need to operate at multiple levels—directed at the individual, at interpersonal relationships, and at the community level.

  • older adult
  • motor vehicle
  • suicide
  • falls

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