7.4.2. Safety of elderly citizens
The highest mortality rates due to injury are reported
among people aged 65 and over (Figure 7.3) with falls being the major cause of
these deaths (Figure 7.19.C). Injuries, at an advanced age account for a higher
than average hospitalisation rate and an excess share in the direct medical
Every year approximately 105 000 people aged 65 or older
die due to an injury in the EU27.
On average, 1 in 10 elderly will receive medical treatment
due to an injury each year, which represents about 8 million cases per year in
the EU27 (Working
Group of Governmental Experts on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, 2008).
As the number of elderly in the European Union population
will increase by a factor of two between 2005 and 2050, a significant increase in fatal and non-fatal traumatic injuries is expected if no substantial
prevention actions are taken.
Figure 7.19.c. Fatal injuries by causes of death,
65+ years of age
Several networks and projects are to support the safety of
senior citizens, in particular addressing the dominating problem of falls (www.profane.org, www.eunese.org). Relevant documents on this
issue are: The evidence report by Todd & Skelton 2004, the policy guideline
“Priorities for elderly safety in Europe” (EUNESE, 2006a), and the “Five-year
strategic plan for the prevention of unintentional injuries among EU senior
citizens” (EUNESE, 2006b).
Actions on the safety of elderly citizens should tackle
hazards for falls at home (floor covering, illumination, furniture, layout of
bathrooms) and in and around buildings (stairs, handrails, design of footpaths)
as well as the individual risk factors (e.g. training of muscular strengths,
revision of multiple medication). . Existing good practice and innovative
approaches in relation to the respective risk groups should be disseminated
among related professional groups, management of care facilities and
associations of the elderly or pensioners.