The U.S. population is aging rapidly. At present, 35 million people—one-eighth of the U.S. population—are age 65 and older; by 2020, this number is expected to reach 77 million. Among older adults, injuries are an underrecognized health problem. Each year, nearly 45,000 older adults die, and more than 3 million more sustain unintentional or “accidental” nonfatal injuries.

The aging process typically involves cognitive and physical changes to the body's brain and nervous, cardiovascular, and sensory systems. These changes, in turn, may cause a reduction in functional abilities, including decreased muscle strength and endurance, slower recovery times after exertion or stress, and delayed reaction times to different types of stimuli. Such physiological changes can make older adults particularly susceptible to injuries.

But injuries are not an inevitable consequence ...

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