The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching Still Going Strong, a national campaign that brings attention to ways older adults (age 65 and older) can age without injury.
The campaign is raising awareness about the leading causes of unintentional injuries and deaths in older adults. Still Going Strong will encourage older adults to continue participating in their favorite hobbies and activities, while informing them and their caregivers of steps they can take to prevent injuries that disproportionately impact this population—falls, motor vehicle crashes, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
“Experiencing injuries doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging; many injuries that are common in older adults can be prevented,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “We know that injuries and deaths from falls and motor vehicle crashes are increasing in older adults. We hope Still Going Strong will help inform our audience about simple steps they can do to prevent injuries and their lasting effects. Everyone has a role—older adults, caregivers, loved ones, and healthcare providers. By taking proactive steps, you can prevent potentially life-changing injuries from happening and maintain your independence and mobility longer.”
The prevalence of older adult injuries
Older adults had over 2.4 million emergency department (ED) visits and 700,000 hospitalizations related to injuries from falls, motor vehicle crashes, opioid overdoses, and self-harm in 2018, according to a new CDC report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Unintentional falls accounted for over 90% of these ED visits and hospitalizations.
Falls. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults. An older adult falls every second of the day, accounting for over 36 million falls each year. Of those falls, 1 out of every 5 causes a serious injury, such as broken bones or a head injury. After an older adult falls, their chances of falling again and getting injured increases.
Motor Vehicle Crashes. Older adults account for over 46 million licensed drivers in the United States—or 1 in 5 drivers. Driving helps older adults stay independent, but the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as we age. Every day, 700 older adults are injured in a motor vehicle crash and 22 die because of their injuries.
TBI. Falls and motor vehicle crashes are common causes of TBI in older adults. TBI is a major cause of death and disability, and those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days or the rest of their lives.
Aging without injury
Over 10,000 people in the United States turn 65 every day. Getting older doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite hobbies and activities. Older adults are more active and mobile than ever, but an injury from a fall or motor vehicle crash can decrease their independence. It’s important for older adults and their caregivers to understand common injuries that can happen as we age and what they can do to prevent these injuries.
Older adults and their caregivers can take simple steps to prevent injuries from falls or car crashes. One of the most important things older adults can do is to talk to their healthcare providers—including general practitioners, specialists, physical therapists, and pharmacists.
- Older adults can take simple steps to maintain their independence and mobility, such as talking to their health care providers about preventing falls and car crashes, removing throw rugs to make their home safer, and always wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in a vehicle.
- Friends, family, and caregivers can help loved ones live longer and healthier lives by talking with them about fall and motor vehicle crash prevention and by encouraging them to stay active and make safe choices, such as finding alternative transportation for going places at night.
- Healthcare providers can ask their older patients if they have concerns about falling or driving safely. They also can review older patients’ over-the-counter and prescription medications to identify if any cause drowsiness or dizziness.
CDC’s Still Going Strong campaign will initially focus ads in metro and rural markets in four states: Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wisconsin. States were selected for their incidence of older adult falls, fall injuries, motor vehicle crashes, and deaths caused by injuries. The campaign will have national reach through digital and social media and partner efforts.