Campaign aims at reducing falls

Up to 20% of people aged over 80 who survive a hip fracture will be admitted to aged residential care as a result of the fracture, and 27% of those in the same age group will die within a year, Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) research shows.

The commission's annual April Falls campaign is highlighting the need for older people to avoid falls, because of their possible serious consequences.

HQSC Reducing Harm from Falls programme clinical lead Sandy Blake said only half of those over 80 who survived a hip fracture would walk again unaided, and many would not regain their former degree of mobility.

In 2015, almost 220,000 people over 50 made a claim to ACC for a fall-related injury, and almost 26,000 were admitted to hospital because of a fall.

And, in the same year, 217,000 people over 50 had one or more claims for a fall-related injury accepted by ACC. That was an increase of 47,000, from the 170,000 claims in 2011, Ms Blake said.

But, on the positive side, the number of in-hospital falls resulting in fractured hips between July 2013 and December 2016 was down by 85.

''These results are important because hip fracture is the most common serious fall-related injury in those over 80 years old,'' she said.

ACC, district health boards and other health service providers are promoting a simple checklist to identify hazards in the home.

They advised having non-slip rugs or rugs secured to the floor, keeping walkways clear, any cords or wires being taped down, and ensuring stairs and walkways were well lit with easy-to-grip handrails.

In Otago, Age Concern's Steady As You Go (Saygo) programme provided regular exercise classes to help improve the fitness and wellbeing of older people. At the end of last year 1426 people over 65 were regularly attending classes throughout Otago, Saygo co-ordinator Margaret Dando said.

While no official data on the effectiveness of the Saygo and tai chi programmes was available, feedback from those running the various groups pointed to the positive effects of exercise for participants.

Not only was the physical wellbeing of people improved, but also their mental health, Ms Dando said.

The groups provided regular social contact for people who might otherwise be vulnerable to loneliness and depression which could in turn lead to less physical activity and consequent loss of muscle tone.


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