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Accidental and violent injuries: Less frequent among the older population, but more serious

Population and Societies

468, June 2010

The fear of being attacked is common among older adults, but to what extent are they actually the victims of physical violence? How frequent are violent injuries compared with home and leisure accidents? Xavier Thierry reviews the data on violence against older adults and compares them with statistics for the younger population.
Each year, around 6% of persons aged 65 and over are injured in a home or leisure accident, compared with 15% of children. For the over-65s, three-quarters of all home and leisure accidents are falls in or near the home and, in 15% of cases, in the street. By comparison, accidents among young people occur more frequently when practising a sport or when travelling for work-related reasons. Although such accidental injuries are less frequent among older people, they are more serious. For older adults, the risks of assault or attempted suicide are much smaller than the risk of a home or leisure accident: only 1% of persons in this age group report having been assaulted in the last two years, and fewer than one in a thousand are hospitalized each year for attempted suicide.

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