13 people die every day after a fall in the Netherlands
According to figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS), in 2018, 4.628 residents died after an accidental fall, this means an average of 13 per day. The number of deaths due to an accidental fall has been increasing in the last few years, with 2018 seeing 600 more than in 2017.
Elderly most at risk
Of those who passed away from a fall last year, more than three-quarters were aged 80 or above. When we talk about an accidental fall, we mean an accident in whereby someone unintentionally falls, trips or slips. Accidents in which someone falls from a bike or other mode of transport do not count as accidental falls, but rather as transport accidents. These are therefore not included in the accidental fall data.
In 2018, 1.887 men and 2.741 women died from an accidental fall. The majority of these men and women were 80 or above, namely 69 percent of the men and 84 percent of the women. In fact, 25 percent of the men and 43 percent of the women were 90 and above. The largest increase in fatality after a fall is also seen in the 90+ group, growing by 67 percent between 2014 and 2018.
Elderly people are more likely to sustain an injury after a fall. This is partially because their bones are weaker. So, the older you are, the more likely it is that the consequences of a fall are fatal. According to CBS, the increase in fatal falls is partly due to the ageing population, but not completely, as even when adjusted for the changing age structure of the population, an increase over the years can still be seen.
Living alone for longer
One of the reasons for the increase is that elderly people live alone for longer. “Someone who is 90 now has a bigger chance of dying after a fall than a 90-year-old 10 years ago”, says CBS researcher Dick ter Steege. The majority of falls occur in the bathroom.
Falls can occur due to medication but also simply from not listening to advice, according to district nurse Fouzia Chahid from Tilburg. She regularly hears that her clients have taken a tumble. “They want to get something from the bathroom and think: ‘I’ll just leave my walker outside the door and walk inside quickly.’ It doesn’t take much for an accident to happen.” Chahid strongly recommends elderly people living alone to have a personal alarm so they can ask for help even if they can’t get to the phone.
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