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Older people who fall and require ambulance care require follow-up interventions to prevent further falls

Older people who fall at home, call an ambulance but who are not transported to hospital are a key group at high risk of future falls and associated injuries.

This is the finding of a study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, which surveyed 262 people aged 70 years and older who were attended by an ambulance as a result of a fall but were not transported to hospital.

Professor Stephen Lord

“Results indicate that older fallers are a vulnerable population with a high prevalence of chronic health conditions, falls, impaired mobility and functional disability,” said Dr Anne Tiedemann, a Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.

The study found that 58% of participants fell again at least once in the six-month period following the fall.

“These people are an easily identifiable population with the potential to benefit from interventions to prevent future falls,” says Associate Professor Jacqui Close, a Principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) in Sydney.

Ambulance officers are well placed to identify and guide referral of these older people, which is likely to improve their quality of life.

“Opportunities exist to work collaboratively with the Ambulance Service of NSW to offer alternate pathways to provide ongoing assessment and intervention for this population,” Close said.

The Falls and Injury Prevention Group at NeuRA is currently working with Ambulance NSW undertaking a number of projects in the area of falls prevention including testing a new model of care for people who are left at home following a fall.

“The fall risk screen derived in this study indicated that exercise programs aimed at maximising safe mobility within the home may be a key intervention for these people who are at elevated risk of falls,” says Professor Stephen Lord, a Senior Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA.