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Falls are a major cause of injury among the elderly, according to the latest statistics from The Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 2014, falls accounted for the second biggest cause of emergency hospital admissions in the 70+ age group, exceeding that of stroke, disease and dementia. These falls, which mostly happened in their own homes, resulted in injuries ranging from bruises and sprains to dislocations and even death.
The World Health Organisation reports that 28-35 per cent of people aged 65 years and over will fall each year worldwide. Falls are the underlying cause of 10-15 per cent of all emergency department visits with more than half of all fall-related hospitalisations occurring among people aged 65 years and older.
The Moller Report to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing states that health system costs due to injuries from falls exceed the cost of road injuries.
With most fall incidents taking place at home, it is possible to reduce the risk through a few preventive measures.
Australia’s leading accessibility expert, David Goding, Director, MGAC explains that the number of fall incidents among the elderly could be substantially reduced by making simple adjustments in the home to minimise or eliminate risk factors.
Goding advises that a few simple fall prevention measures such as fixing hand rails in the shower, placing rubber bath mats, ensuring adequate lighting or checking that chair legs are stable can create a safer environment for the elderly in their own home. Additionally, by reducing falls in the home, the demand on hospitals and emergency departments can be substantially eased.
Observing that preventative measures are essential to wellbeing in older age, Goding urges people who are concerned about themselves or a loved one, to seek an expert to review the home environment and make recommendations about changes that will reduce their risk of falls.