Falls were the second biggest cause of hospital emergency admissions in the 70+ age group in 2014. New statistics from The Royal Melbourne hospital showed these admission figures were greater than those for strokes, disease or dementia. Injuries ranged from bruises and sprains to dislocations and death, with the majority of incidents happening in the home.
Data from the Department of Health and Ageing revealed that health system costs due to injuries from falls exceeded the cost of road injuries. According to the World Health Organization, 28-35 per cent of people aged 65 and over fall each year worldwide and are the underlying cause of 10-15 per cent of all emergency department visits. More than half of injury-related hospitalisations due to falls are among those 65 years and older.
According to accessibility expert, David Goding, the number of fall incidents among the elderly could be significantly reduced by making simple modifications in the home. He said the more risk factors in the home, the more likely an elderly person will fall and minimising the risks can be simple. “These include fixing hand rails in the shower, using rubber bath mats, increasing lighting or checking that leg chairs are stable.” Goding said preventative measures are essential to wellbeing in the older age group. “Anyone with concerns should seek expert advice to review the home environment and make recommendations about changes that will reduce the risk of falls.”