Falls the cause of 75% of injury hospitalisations for older people

Morgan Liotta

19/09/2019 2:42:18 PM

An estimated 125,021 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised due to falls in 2016–17.

Older woman after fall
Women aged 65 and over accounted for 65% of all fall-related hospitalisations.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Trends in hospitalised injury due to falls in older people 2007–08 to 2016–17 identified that 2016–17 rates of fall-related injury in people aged 65 and over increased by 2% for women and 3% for men since 2007–08.
An estimated 125,021 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised due to falls in 2016–17, attributing to three-quarters of all hospitalisations for this age group.
Injuries to the head (26%), and hip and thigh (22%) were the most common, with rates of head injury particularly high in those aged 85 and over.
Head injuries also more than doubled between 2007–08 and 2016–17 for men and women, from 469 (men) and 477 (women) per 100,000, to 832 (men) and 865 (women) per 100,000.
Fall-related injuries accounted for one in every eight days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 and over in 2016–17, with the average length of stay following a fall around 10 days.
The overall rate of fall cases was higher for women across all older age groups, and women accounted for 65% of all fall-related hospitalisations.
The AIHW report also shows that 51% of hospitalised falls in 2016–17 occurred in the home, 21% in a residential aged care facility (RACF) and 13% in other places. The place of occurrence was ‘not specified or not reported’ for 14% of cases.
Around 85% of fall-related injury cases in 2016–17 were recorded as having occurred in either the home or in residential aged care.
‘Falls are common among older people and can result in fractures, head injuries, other serious injuries and even death,’ Professor James Harrison, from the AIHW National Injury Surveillance Unit at Flinders University, said in a statement.
In 2016–17, the most common causes of fall-related injuries for those aged 65 and over were:

  • falls on the same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling (34%)
  • falls from household objects, such as beds, chairs, stairs and steps (15% combined).
The RACGP’s Medical care of older persons in residential aged care facilities (Silver Book) states that falls are a marker of increased frailty in older people and frequently occur in RACFs.
Causes of falls in older people are frequently multifactorial and require ‘a multidisciplinary approach to intervention’, the Silver Book recommends, with key interventions including: Professor Harrison agrees that exercise and nutrition are important components in managing risks, considering falls in this age group are ‘strongly associated’ with weak muscles and bones.
‘Keeping physically fit and active is important for all ages,’ he told newsGP.
‘Australians are now living longer, and with an ageing population, one of things we have to grapple with [is the fact that] incorporating physical activity from a young age and encouraging it in older age is important to help reduce falls, with an emphasis on strength and balance.
‘We can’t slow down the chronological process of ageing, but we can help prevent things like osteoporosis through good nutrition and exercise.’
The updated edition of the Silver Book is due for release in October.

fall prevention frailty hospital presentations older people Silver Book

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