New statistics released by The Royal Melbourne Hospital shows that falls are the second biggest cause for admissions in older Australians. Behind chest pain, 540 people aged over 70 were admitted to the hospital in 2014, collapsing by fainting or falls with most taking place in their own home.
Over 60 per cent of the falls, took place at home, followed by residential facilities (14 per cent) and roads (11 per cent).
The impact of falls can vary from patient to patient, and can include bruises and sprains through to dislocations and even death.
Nick McDonald, a registered nurse, and founder of Prestige Inhome Care, a Melbourne-based in home care provider, says the results do not surprise him.
“We typically get 20-30 enquiries each month from concerned sons and daughters who have witnessed the effect of their parents falling. The causes are many and varied but commonly include slippery surfaces (baths, tiles and steps) through to inappropriate floor coverings and furniture,” says Nick.
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“You can’t imagine the snowball effect of a fall for an elderly person. It is unfortunately very common for a fall to be the catalyst that leads to placement in a residential facility and even premature death,” he said.
Nick believes simple adjustments can be taken in the home to minimise risk of falls.
“Rubber bath mats, hand rails in showers, floor mats, adequate lighting, tidy homes and chairs fitted to the correct height can drastically help. Also close monitoring of people on certain medications with illnesses like diabetes and dementia can drastically reduce their incidence of falls.
“It’s important that regular light exercise is part of a daily routine and that elderly people are ‘checked on’ regularly. I would highly recommend that anyone with concerns about an ageing loved one living at home invest in an expert to review the home environment and make recommendations about changes that will reduce their risk of falls,” says Nick.
Tell us, have you ever had a fall? What do you do to prevent them from occurring?