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Head injuries skyrocket in older people

Fall-related head injuries among older Australians have nearly doubled over the past decade.

Research released today looked at people aged 65 or older, comparing head injury rates from 2016–17 to figures from 2007–08.

In men, the rate increased from 469 to 832 per 100,000 people. In women, the figure jumped from 477 to 865.

“For those aged 85 and over, the increase in the rate of head injury due to falls was estimated to be 6.7 per cent per year,” said James Harrison from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The latest data showed more than a quarter of people (26 per cent) aged 65 and over who were injured in a fall received a head injury, while 22 per cent suffered injuries to the hip and thigh.

Women were more likely to be taken to hospital after a fall, accounting for 65 per cent of all cases.

Similar to previous years, a fall on the same level due to slipping, tripping and stumbling was the most common cause of hospitalised injury. However, the AIHW report found that falls involving stairs and steps showed the steepest increase year on year.

Aged-care facility residents were most likely to fall, Harrison said.

“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.”

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