The rate of head injuries from falls by older Australians has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
According to the report, Trends in hospitalised injury due to falls in older people 2007–08 to 2016–17, about 125,000 people aged 65 and over were seriously injured due to a fall in 2016–17. Injuries to the head (26%), hip and thigh (22%) were the most common.
“Falls are common among older people and can result in fractures, head injuries, other serious injuries and even death,” said spokesperson Professor James Harrison from the AIHW’s National Injury Surveillance Unit, based at Flinders University.
The magnitude of the rise in fall-related head injuries over the decade to 2017 was greater for those in older age groups.
“For those aged 85 and over, the increase in the rate of head injury due to falls was estimated to be 6.7% per year,” Professor Harrison said.
Overall, the rate of fall injury cases among older Australians rose by about 3% for men and 2% for women per year since 2008.
Women accounted for most of the hospitalisations for falls, making up 65% of cases. The rate of fall cases was higher for women than for men across all older age groups.
The report shows 51% of hospitalised falls in 2016–17 occurred in the home, 21% in a residential aged care facility and 13% in other places. The place of occurrence was not specified or not reported for 14% of cases.
“The estimated incidence rate of hospitalised fall injury among residents of aged care facilities was nearly six times as high as the rate estimated for community-dwelling older people,” Professor Harrison said.
The average length of stay in hospital following a fall was about 10 days in 2016–17.