Older Australians are being hospitalised at an increasing rate due to falls, and the total annual number of cases is rising, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
According to the report, Hospitalisations due to falls by older people, Australia 2005-06, the rate, at around 1 in 40 people aged 65 and over, is about 5% up on 2003-04 figures. This was despite a decrease in the rate of femur (hip bone) fractures in older people.
The total estimated number of hospitalised injury cases due to falls in older people was 66,800 in 2005-06 (a rise in number of 10% on the number for 2003-04).
'Among the over 75s, the rate of fall injury cases was substantially higher than that for the over 65s, at around 1 in 25 people', said Clare Bradley of the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit.
Older women still account for most hospitalised fall injury cases.
'The most common type of fall that results in hospitalisation is a fall on the same level, from slipping, tripping or stumbling,' Ms Bradley said.
'Half of all fall injury cases for people aged 65 years and older occurred in the home, but falls in residential institutions were also common', she said.
Older people who lived in aged care facilities were found to have a rate of hospitalised falls five times as high as that for people of the same age who lived in the community.
'This is because people in aged care facilities tend to have much higher care needs and are more likely to be frail', Ms Bradley said.
The report showed that the majority (almost 65%) of people aged 65 and older who were hospitalised for a fall injury had at least one broken bone.
Hospitalised care following treatment of an injurious fall, in-hospital rehabilitation for example, is also significant. In 2005-06 there were over 23,000 such episodes of care for people aged 65 years and older, compared to 16,000 in 2003-04.
Including episodes of follow-up care, the estimated mean length of stay in hospital because of a fall injury for people aged 65 and older was just over 16 days.