Injuries most likely to kill older Australians

Australians of all ages die every day from injuries sustained in accidents. But certain types of injuries are more likely to cause death for certain age groups than other.

The latest snapshot of the nation’s health from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed which injuries are most likely to kill older Australians.

Different age groups can be affected by different injury risk factors. This is partly due to being at different life stages at different ages, including in physical development, health status, socioeconomic area, lifestyle and activity levels.

Injuries causing death were similar for those in the 45-64 age group as well as the 65+ group, but what changed was how common certain types of injuries become as you move into your later years.

People aged 45-64

A tragic piece of information, the AIHW data confirms the most common injuries resulting in death for 45-64-year-olds are ones caused as a result of suicide at 16.3 cases per 100,000 people. Sadly, suicide was also the leading cause for people in the 15-24 and 25-44 age groups.

Accidental poisoning was listed as the second most common cause of accidental death (10.1 cases per 100,000) in this group. While that might not seem that common, this category includes alcohol poisoning, drug abuse and misuse of medication.

Road accidents came in third spot, causing 5.9 deaths per 100,000 and rounding out the list were falls (4.2) and accidental choking or suffocation (2.7). While these caused relatively few deaths in this age group, the risk from falls and choking goes up substantially once you hit 65.

People aged 65 and above

In a total reversal of the previous age group, injuries from falls were far and away the most common cause of accidental injury death in the elderly, accounting for an astonishing 70 per cent of all accident deaths, or 138.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Interestingly, there was no measurable difference between the sexes when it came to rates of fall injuries, but a gender gap was noted in other causes.

A further 12 per cent of injury deaths for over-65s were caused by choking or suffocation, highlighting the very real risks of very old people just completing normal tasks such as eating food in their daily lives. Men had a 2 per cent higher risk of choking than women.

Again shining a light on sometimes silent mental health crisis many people face in this country, injuries related to suicide were third on the list causing 6.7 per cent of accidental deaths, or 13.1 cases per 100,000.

There was a stark difference between the suicide rates of men and women across all age groups, but particularly in the 65+ group, where men were more than three times more likely to take their own lives than women.

Road accidents caused the fourth-highest number of injury deaths for those aged 65 and over. Road trauma featured in the top five causes of injury death across all age groups and is a timely reminder for everyone to be as safe as possible on the roads.

Have you had any accidental injuries in recent years? How did it affect you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Alarming report reveals how older men end up in hospital

Disclaimer: Australian readers seeking support and information about suicide and
depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on treating depression,
please visit Beyond Blue.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. I had a scratch on my hand from our 10 month old puppy that became infected (didn’t notice for 2 days and tried treating myself) infection travelled up the arm. Is now healing very well and big scab starting to raise off.

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