CPSC: Injuries Rise Dramatically for Those 75 and Over

February 14, 2005

In 2002, more than 1.45 million Americans 65 years and older went to hospital emergency rooms with consumer product-related injuries.

According to a new study titled “Special Report: Emergency Room Injuries Adults 65 and Older,” consumers in that age group are increasingly at risk for product-related injuries in or around the home, especially falls. The report is being announced to coincide with the kickoff of a major education campaign by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Safety Council (NSC).

The special report finds those 75 years and older especially vulnerable. From 1991 to 2002, the number of people 75 and older treated in a U.S. hospital emergency room for a product-related injury jumped 73 percent. During the same time frame, their population grew just 27 percent. Those 75 years and older are twice as likely as adults 65 to 74 to have emergency room-treated injuries from consumer products.

“These are preventable injuries,” said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. “Older Americans are living longer and are more active than ever. We want them to enjoy themselves free from debilitating injury.”

CPSC estimates product-related injuries and deaths involving those 65 and older cost the U.S. more than $100 billion every year.

“Falls and injuries among the elderly are issues of extreme importance to the National Safety Council,” said Alan McMillan, NSC president and CEO. “According to our 2003 data, more than 15,000 Americans 65 and older died as a result of unintentional injuries in the home. We need to take steps now in order to address this urgent national issue.”

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury at home among Americans 65 and older. Injuries include falling and tripping on stairs, in bathtubs, off ladders and step stools, over garden hoses, dog leashes, and household appliance cords.

Among more active older consumers, the report cites sports-related deaths and injuries. CPSC has reports of 100 drowning deaths in one year among those 65 and older, a disproportionate share.
Fires are also a hazard. Cooking fires and clothing ignition while cooking are a major hazard for older people.

Those 75 and older are one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population, and older consumers are also increasingly involved in exercise and sports.

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