Doctors at National Taiwan University Hospital yesterday called for better care and safeguards against injuries from falls among the elderly as the nation ages.
Li Jia-ming (黎家銘), a doctor at the hospital’s Beihu branch, said that more than 70 percent of the nation’s elderly suffer injuries from falls, and that 80 percent of injury-related hospital stays for those aged 65 and above were the result of falls.
“Taiwan is an aging society, as is the rest of the world. The percentage of elderly people exceeds that of the youth by 7 percent, making geriatric care more important than ever,” Beihu branch president Yang Pei-ming (楊培銘) told a press conference yesterday.
The hospital conducted a survey from last October to May of 676 people aged 65 and above in Taipei City’s Wanhua District (萬華). Of the respondents, 159 or 23.5 percent had experienced a fall in the past year with some suffering multiple falls, bringing the total number of falls to 197.
Surprisingly, most falls occurred on level ground, Li said.
“One to 2 percent of the elderly who experienced a fall fractured their hipbone,” he said.
As a result of the fall, more than half were unable to “sufficiently take care of themselves, making correct care and supervision vital,” he said
Some doctors dismiss falls as an “inevitable part of aging,” said Han Te-sheng (韓德生), another doctor, resulting in improper or no treatment at all.
He said that there were certain steps that could be taken to decrease the risk of falls.
Creating a safe environment, such as clearing the floor of electrical cords and securing carpets, can help prevent falls, he said.
Han also suggested regular exercise to help the elderly strengthen their sense of stability and balance.