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The number of older Australians hospitalised after a fall is rising, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2008-09, shows that there were 78,600 hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 and over in 2008-09.

‘This was 4,000 more cases than in 2007–08,’ said AIHW spokesperson James Harrison.

Women made up most of the hospitalisations for falls, and the rate of fall cases was higher for women than for men across all older age groups.

‘The rate of hospitalised falls for older women is now more than 3,000 per 100,000 older women, continuing the steady increase observed since 1999–00,’ Professor Harrison said.

About one-third of fall injury cases involved injuries to the hip and thigh, and the majority of these were hip fractures.

‘Despite a decrease in the rate of hospitalised hip fractures among older people over the 10 years to June 2009, the number of hospitalisations due to falls in older people is rising,’ Professor Harrison said.

Head injuries accounted for about one in five cases and were more common for men than women.

‘Falls resulting in head injuries increased at a particularly high rate between 1999 and 2009,’ Professor Harrison said.

Falls on the same level due to slipping, tripping, or stumbling (rather than, for instance, a fall involving furniture or stairs) were the most common cause of a hospitalised fall injury.

The majority (about 70%) of hospitalised falls occurred in either the home or an aged care facility. Older people who lived in aged care facilities had a rate of falls nearly six times as high as that for people of the same age who lived in the community and fell in their home.

Injuries due to falls were the cause of one in every ten days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 years and older in 2008–09.

The average total length of stay per fall injury was about 16 days.

In Australia, about 4% of all hospitalisations for people aged 65 and older are the result of injuries, and falls account for 77% of these.

Two reports covering earlier periods were also released today—Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2006-07 and Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2007-08. A report profile summarising all three reports is also available.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 1 June 2012

Further information: Professor James Harrison,  tel. 08 8201 7602

Full publications:

Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2008-09 

Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2007-08 

Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2006-07