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BLOG: With an ageing population, new approaches are needed to help prevent falls in older adults.

I used to home-share with an Australian man who was in his late 70s. I hesitate to use the word elderly when it comes to him because he was very active, fit and was still working! One day in the morning, I saw him not leaving for work and asked if he is on leave. He said he couldn’t go to work because he had a fall while at work the day before. Fortunately, he didn’t sustain any serious injuries but was advised to take rest for a week by his GP.

When it comes to injury prevention strategies, thoughts automatically direct us to prevention in home or residential care or some leisure centres etc. My old housemate’s story makes me think that safer working environments for the elderly also need to be a priority.

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These thoughts were triggered after I recently attended a presentation by Dr. Nicholas Waldron, about the impact of injury on older adults 65+ years. Nick’s current research includes falls prevention and translation in the inpatient and mental health settings, as well as more recently in end of life care

In Australia, unintentional falls continue to be the leading cause of injuries in older adults requiring hospitalization. Older people have the highest risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall; reasons being their poor balance, weak muscles, poor vision, poor nutrition and many others. Given the seriousness of the issue, I found Nick’s presentation to be very important and engaging.

With discussions going around increasing retirement age, fall prevention strategies for the elderly in workplace could be a good area of improvement, which can not only help health sector but also the economic sector of the country.

 

Written by Nisha Paudel, Injury Control Council of WA