July 11, 2019  — 

In Canada, more than 137,500 seniors (age 65 and older) were hospitalized for injuries in 2017–2018, with most injuries caused by falls, according to new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Last year, seniors accounted for more than half of all injury-related hospitalizations among Canadians, with 63% of senior hospitalizations for women. A “hospitalization” means a patient was admitted and spent at least 1 night in the hospital.

Reasons for injury hospitalizations

CIHI’s data shows that 4 out of 5 injury hospitalizations involving seniors were because of a fall; vehicle collisions were the second leading cause, with more than 5,800 seniors hospitalized last year. Vehicle collisions often involved injuries among drivers, passengers and cyclists.

Accidental poisoning, which can occur from substances such as drugs and alcohol, or gases and vapours like carbon monoxide, was the third leading cause of injury hospitalizations.

Over the past 3 years, the largest increases for injury hospitalizations among seniors were for falls (9%), vehicle collisions (8%) and collisions with people or objects (8%). The data shows that women are hurt more than men for all top 5 causes of injuries except vehicle collisions.

Top 5 reasons for injury hospitalizations, 2017–2018

Injury hospitalizations involving seniors

Reason Number Percentage

1. Falls

112,008

81%

2. Vehicle collisions

5,885

4%

3. Accidental poisoning

2,713

2%

4. Attempted suicide and self-inflicted injury

1,601

1%

5. Collided with or hit by people or objects

1,513

1%

Other reasons

13,848

10%

 

Emergency room visits

Falls are also the top reason for injury among seniors seen in the emergency room (ER). Falls accounted for 60% of all reported ER visits among seniors, with an estimated 20% admitted to the hospital.

Most of the falls that prompted the reported ER visits occurred at home (28%) while 14% took place in residential institutions such as long-term care facilities.

More data on injury and trauma hospitalizations and ER visits can be found in CIHI’s Quick Stats.

Quotes

“Seniors are the fastest-growing population in Canada and it’s important that we take steps to prevent injuries and hospitalizations among this age group. Injuries from falls and vehicles send thousands of seniors to the hospital every year and these injuries are often preventable. Our data provides information to seniors and their families that allows them to have important discussions around safety and strategies to reduce falls and vehicle collisions.”

— Greg Webster, Director, Acute and Ambulatory Care Information Services, CIHI

“Falls continue to be the scourge of growing older. We think of broken bones as an inconvenient injury requiring a few weeks of casts and crutches. But for seniors, a broken hip can often mean the end of walking independently.”

— Geoff Fernie, Senior Scientist and falls prevention expert at the University Health Network and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

Preventing injuries and falls

Hospitalizations and ER visits due to injuries are often preventable. Parachute Canada estimates that up to 90% of serious injuries are preventable. It provides tips to reduce falls, transport incidents and poisonings.

The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s Geoff Fernie provides 2 practical ways for seniors to prevent falls:

  • Wear safe footwear indoors and outdoors to reduce slips.
  • Install easily graspable handrails on both sides of your stairs and outdoor steps at home — and use them.

Mr. Fernie recommends that seniors change into running shoes after arriving home — rather than walking around in socks or bare feet — to help reduce slipping. He also suggests buying new winter boots every year and following recommendations to ensure that the treads have maximum slip-resistance and are not worn out.

He encourages seniors to use handrails and grab bars in public spaces and carry a little bottle of hand hygiene gel to use afterward.

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health systems and the health of Canadians.

​​​​We provide comparable and actionable data and information that are used to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health across Canada. Our stakeholders use our broad range of health system databases, measurements and standards, together with our evidence-based reports and analyses, in their decision-making processes. We protect the privacy of Canadians by ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the health care information we provide.

Media contact

media@cihi.ca

Julie Bortolotti

613-694-6654