Highly preventable, fall-related head injuries in older people. Emergency workers are at risk

A man doing rehabilitation being helped by a woman

Falls related injuries rise

The rate of head injuries caused by falls has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

Numbers from the Australian Health Institute of Health and Welfare (AHIHW) reveals about 125,000 people aged 65 and over were seriously injured in a fall. 

This can include head injuries, fractures, and in some cases, death.

The figures only increase with age, as head injuries due to falls reach 6.7% for those aged 85+. While falls aren’t directly linked to a history in the force, there is a connection between the reasons why they occur.

For example, poor eyesight and hearing can increase the likelihood of an accident.

Certain illnesses and conditions can impact a person’s strength or balance. We also know that diabetes and heart conditions can lead to unsteadiness.

A recipe for illness

Police officers are exposed to daily trauma and emotional stress, as well as night shifts, missing meals at home, and important social events.

These elements put people working in emergency services at a higher risk of getting these serious diseases.

One study details the strenuous duties of police officers that may contribute to elevated blood pressure (5-7), which is linked to adverse health outcomes – heart attack, stroke, chronic heart failure, and kidney disease.2

Unintentional injuries can be prevented through good health and managing these chronic conditions.

And it’s something we should take seriously, as death from unintentional falls are the seventh leading cause of death among the elderly.

After retirement

People in the force might carry that tough ‘armour’ into older age, unwilling to ask for help from others.

Retired officers are also more likely to rely on substances such as alcohol to get through their days.

The trauma they witnessed on the job, often over decades, doesn’t just go away when officers hand in their badges.

Retirement can be a huge psychological blow. Preparation must occur long before an officer retires. It’s not just a matter of paperwork.

Experts talk about unwelcome memories, delayed PTSD, and most importantly, the loss of schedule, order and control.

Without daily support of the ‘blue family’, officers come face-to-face with their problems (often ignored over the years).

Emergency staff can invest in mental health support to minimise the risk of addictions, depression, and a lack of purpose.

If you suffer from one of the chronic diseases mentioned or have a family history of it, it’s important to invest in regular eye checks (for cataracts, glaucoma and vision changes), hearing tests, foot pain, and regular exercise.

Police Health can help

Police Health understands the unique health needs of the police community, because we’ve been looking after them for over 89 years.

Our Rolling Extras cover can help in many areas, including;

  • Pharmaceutical to help cover the cost of non PBS listed medication
  • Counselling and Psychology to help treat and manage your mental health
  • Dietary to have tailored fod and nutritional support from accredited Dietitians

Find out more about our cover

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