UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Fall-related deaths among older adults in British Columbia B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit


British Columbia (BC) is experiencing a rapidly aging population, with older adults living longer and healthier lives than previous generations. By 2021, there are expected to be over one million British Columbians aged 65 years and older, with most of them living at home in their communities. Falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths among older adults, with one in three older adults falling each year. Falls, however, are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented. Researchers and policy makers can look to injury data to help determine the types of programs that can reduce the risk of injury from falls. This includes examining patterns in fall-related deaths (mortality trends). Recently we noticed something interesting when comparing fall-related mortality patterns with other provinces. There was an unexpected increase found in the rate of fall-related deaths among older adults in BC between 2008 and 2012, followed by a gradual decline. Upon further investigation, we found that this anomaly is actually the result of a 2010 policy change in how cause of death is captured and recorded, rather than a spike in deaths, highlighting that context is always needed before drawing conclusions from injury data.

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