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Older Australians are five times more likely to die from a fall than on the road

Does the imbalance in funding for road safety and falls indicate that Australians don’t value the health of older women?

<p>What do statistics tell the public about road safety and priorities? [Source: Shutterstock]</p>

What do statistics tell the public about road safety and priorities? [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Each year in Australia $2.3 billion is spent treating people aged 65 and older for falls-related injuries
  • In 2021 – ‘22, 5,838 Australians died from a falls injury — nearly five times the annual road toll
  • According to a spokesperson from Queensland tyre specialist Tyre Geek, road fatality statistics regarding older people do not necessarily mean that older people are at fault for accidents

 

The Australian Government is committed to Vision Zero – zero deaths and serious injury due to road crashes, by 2050 and committed $43.6 million towards delivering the National Road Safety Action Grants Program in the May 2023 Budget.

Ahead of Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ delivery of the 2024 – 2025 Federal Budget on May 14, advocates and researchers have expressed the need to fund fall prevention and how it could impact older Australians.

The National Ageing Research Institute has called for ongoing financial support from the government to keep older people safe, healthy and out of hospital.

In two hospital wards, NARI implemented a tailored approach based on each of the ward’s specific patient and environmental profiles — as a result, the rate of falls has been cut by half and lives have been saved.

Research has found that falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in Australia and women over the age of 65 are most likely to be injured, hospitalised or die as a result of falling.

NARI falls prevention consultancy supports residential aged care facilities and hospitals with developing and implementing evidence-based fall prevention strategies.

This includes practical recommendations based on each facility’s specific needs and profile, resources to assess and address fall risk and targeted interventions. For one person, a change in footwear might help to limit their risk of falling, while for another, making sure their call bell is within reaching distance could make a critical difference.

Young adults in the 20 – 24 age range comprise approximately four percent of the Australian population, however, males from this age group make up 10 percent of annual road fatalities.

The Australian Government’s Working for Women: A Strategy for Gender Equality was launched by the Minister for Women, Senator Katy Gallagher on March 7, 2024.

Research has indicated that closing the gap in women’s health — namely through providing better, more targeted and effective treatments for women, improving care delivery and addressing a lack of data — could save the global economy USD $1 trillion dollars.

To address the threat that falls pose to older people and those receiving aged care, the Australian Physiotherapy Association has included publicly funded prevention as a key ask ahead of the 2024 – ‘25 Budget in its Pre-Budget Submission.

 

Do you believe that the Federal Budget should include funding for falls prevention and does the imbalance in funding suggest that Australia doesn’t do enough for older women?

Let the team at Talking Aged Care know your thoughts and subscribe to the newsletter for more information, news and industry updates.

 

Related content:

Keeping protected from winter sicknesses

Top health concerns for older people

How to maintain and improve mobility and reduce falls

Staying safe during long heatwaves

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