New research offers a shocking insight into older Americans’ risk of death from falls: Since the turn of the 21st century, the annual number of fatal falls has tripled among Americans 75 and older.

“Deaths from falls may have increased because older people are living longer.”
Elizabeth Burns

Those are the results of a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The annual frequency of fatal falls among the elderly rose from 8,600 in 2000 to 25,190 in 2016.

The Associated Press notes that the trend continued in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which logged almost 26,440 fatal falls among this population in 2017.

“Deaths from falls may have increased because older people are living longer, living longer independently, and are living longer with chronic conditions,” Elizabeth Burns, a study co-author and health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s injury center, suggested to the Associated Press.

Burns also noted the rise in certain psychiatric medications and other prescription drugs that can affect balance.

In an accompanying commentary on the research in JAMA, Marco Pahor of of the University of Florida’s aging and geriatric research department recommended weight-bearing exercises such as walking could help reduce the likelihood of a fatal fall.

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