Falls among elderly 'cost NHS £4.6m a day'

Falls among elderly people cost the NHS more than £4.6 million a day, new analysis found.

Up to one in three (3.4 million) people over 65 fall each year in the UK, existing figures show.

Almost half of all falls are among the over-80s, half of whom fall again in the following year.

A new calculation from the charity Age UK puts the daily cost to the health service at more than £4.6 million, including money spent on keeping people in hospital.

Falls are a major cause of injury and death among the over-70s and account for more than half of hospital admissions for accidental injury.

Research published in May showed the number of falls among the elderly could be cut dramatically with simple techniques.

Balance and strength training, adaptations to the home and practice in getting up quickly could cut the rate of falls by 55%, said experts writing online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "Despite costing the NHS over £4.6 million each day, adding up to £1.7 billion per year, the issue of people in later life falling over is all too often dismissed as an inevitable part of the ageing process.

"The reality is that there are a number of things older people can do to help prevent falls, such as exercises to improve strength and balance, and more should be done to promote and support this."

Health and fitness expert Diana Moran is backing Age UK in promoting exercise as part of this week's National Falls Awareness Week.

She said: "I have always worked hard to promote healthy living among people in later life and to help them make the most of life through exercise.

"Through the Age UK's National Falls Awareness Week I'm hoping to spread the word even further and get people involved in the strength and balance exercise we all need to stay active and independent."

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