Epidemiology

Persons 65 years of age and older represent a large and growing segment of the population. According to the 1990 United States Census, 30.9 million people, representing 12.5 percent of the total population, were 65 years of age or older. This marked a 21.3 percent increase in this segment of the population from the 1980 Census figures. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that those over 65 years of age will increase to 52 million by the year 2020. The number of people over 85 years of age also is growing at an accelerated pace, with estimates that they will number 6.7 million by the year 2020. 1

While persons over 65 years of age represent 12 percent of the population, they account for 36 percent of all ambulance transports, 25 percent of hospitalizations, and 25 percent of total trauma costs.1 Although the elderly are less likely to be involved in trauma compared with other age groups, they are more likely to have fatal outcomes when they are injured. Approximately 28 percent of deaths due to accidental causes involve persons 65 years of age and older. Also, the elderly have the highest population-based mortality rate of any age group.1

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