Common Injuries to the Elderly and How They Occur

Accidents happen – that’s just a fact of life. Sometimes we use the word “accident” to talk about a mistake that is mental in nature, such as dialing the wrong telephone number or calling someone by the wrong name. And even when we talk about true physical accidents, many of them are relatively minor. We spill a drink at the dining table, drop something onto the floor, or absentmindedly bump into a wall or another person. We hardly remember such minor accidents even moments after they occur.

Other accidents have greater consequences. A driver makes an error and has an automobile accident. A person trips on a stair or wet floor and falls down, or perhaps a child crashes a bicycle into a tree.

Luckily, we can often “shake it off,” even after these accidents occur. Other times, we sustain serious and painful injuries, resulting in missed work, lost wages, medical bills, and sometimes permanent injury or death.

One factor that certainly plays a role in our ability to recover is age. Younger accident victims often bounce back more easily than our elderly population. In this article, we’ll discuss some common injuries to the elderly and how they occur.

How Are Americans Injured?

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2016, Americans suffered 161,374 preventable deaths and 44.5 million injuries, all at the cost of $967.9 billion. This represented the highest death rate since 1973. The authors linked the trend to opioid poisoning deaths, motor vehicle accidents, and increased falls for older adults.

The NSC states that this is the first time in American history that accidental injury has risen to the number three most common cause of death. The rate of death marked a 10 percent increase over 2015 in preventable deaths.

How Are Older Americans Commonly Injured?

Of course, older adults can be injured in just as many ways as anyone else. However, statistics show some injuries to be more likely than others.

At age 65, motor vehicle accidents, poisoning, and falls have relatively similar death rates for older adults. However, as age increases, falls become by far the greatest cause of accidental death and injury.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 25 percent of Americans 65 years old or older fall each year. A senior is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 11 seconds. Common injuries to older adults from falls include sprains, hip fractures, lacerations, and head trauma (including traumatic brain injury).

With regard to motor vehicle accidents, the elderly suffer a wide range of injuries - just like their younger counterparts - but bone fractures are far more likely in older adults.

Are These Injuries All Just “Accidents?”

While it might be easy to write many of these injuries off as “accidental,” they often occur due to the carelessness and negligence of others. For example, nursing homes and hospitals often fail to take adequate precautions on behalf of the elderly, which results in falls. If these providers fail to meet the appropriate standard of care, they are deemed negligent under the law.

In other instances, restaurants and other businesses invite elderly guests onto their premises but fail to act with due diligence. For example, an elderly guest is particularly susceptible to tripping or slipping and falling if there are foreign substances on the floor. Under the law of premises liability, a business can be held liable for its negligence in such circumstances.

Finally, motor vehicle drivers have a duty to drive safely in the interest of the entire motoring public. When a driver negligently causes an injury to an elderly adult or anyone else for that matter, the law will hold the driver accountable.

Call a Lawyer

Taking care of our elderly population should always be a priority. If you have suffered a fall or other injury, please feel free to call us with any questions you might have. We will be happy to help you identify the responsible party. It’s only by doing so that we can make society safer for everyone.


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