Brownie, S 2006, 'Preventing falls', Journal of Complementary Medicine, vol. 5, no. 77-83.
Accidents and fractures are major causes of injury and suffering in the older age group. In Australia and overseas it is estimated that approximately a third of community-living individuals aged 65 years and over fall annually, with over 30 per cent sustaining injuries requiring medical attention.1,2 The rate of falls and associated injuries in residential care and hospitals is even higher. The cost of falls to the community, in both economic and human terms, is enormous. In 2001, the direct cost associated with the management of injurious falls in Australia was approximately $498 million.1 By 2051, when almost one quarter (24 per cent) of the population will be aged 65 years and over, it is predicted that the total health cost attributable to fall-related injuries will increase almost threefold to $1375 million per annum.3 Moreover, approximately 50 per cent of older adults who sustain a hip fracture require nursinghome care for 12 months, with a mortality rate of up to 20 per cent in the year after a hip fracture.4 Clearly, the prevention of falls in older people is an important national health priority. The aim of this article is to explore the factors that contribute to falls in this age group, and examine the importance of diet (calcium, vitamin D and protein) and physical activity in fall risk reduction.