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NC Department of Health and Human Services
N.C. DPH: Chronic Disease and Injury Section
N.C. Public Health Home

Injury and Violence Prevention Branch

Fall Injuries

As our population ages, fall injuries in North Carolina are an increasingly serious public health issue. Falls are the third leading cause of unintentional injury death for North Carolinians of all ages, and in every year from 1999 to 2010, the number one cause of injury death for individuals 65 and older. From 2000-2011, the death rate from falls has increased 69.8 percent for all ages, and 65.9 percent in the 65 and older population.

For older adults, one fall can mean a lengthy hospital stay, painful rehabilitation, a loss of independent life, or worse. The good news is that falls are preventable.

Older adults can take several steps that are proven to be effective to protect their independence and reduce their risk of falling. They can:

  • Exercise regularly; exercise programs that increase strength and improve balance are especially good. Tai chi and dancing are both good for this.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
  • Improve the lighting in their home.
  • Reduce hazards in their home that can lead to falls.

Data and statistics about fall injuries in N.C. are produced by the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch Surveillance Unit.

Visit the North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition website to learn about work to prevent falls by increasing awareness, providing education and training, providing tools and resources, and fostering linkages between programs and organizations working ot reduce falls. For national data and prevention resources, visit the CDC’s site on preventing falls in older adults.