Leading expert on ageing gives advice to older people to help cut long hospital stays

Wed, 14 Aug 2019 14:22:00 BST
Professor Dawn Skelton
Professor Dawn Skelton

Glasgow Caledonian University Ageing and Health Professor Dawn Skelton is urging older people in Scotland to seek simple help to prevent a lengthy stay in hospital.

She has been getting this important message out to older people and their families as new figures revealed that the number of hospital admissions for patients over the age of 65 in Scotland has risen by around 10 per cent for the third year in a row.

The Acute Hospital Outcomes Report 2017/18, which provides an overview of acute geriatric medicine services in Scotland, showed that admissions for older people reached 43,311.

However, Professor Skelton, an expert with Scotland’s Falls and Fracture Prevention Strategy group, said 22,400 of these admissions were due to falls which means the vast majority of cases could be avoided by following simple advice.

The School of Health and Life Sciences researcher explained: “Most falls are preventable and it’s about having strength and balance to correct a trip and being able to get back up if an older person has a fall.

“It can be really simple to address this and we have fantastic falls services in Scotland.

“To help people regain these lost skills can take minutes if it's just a 'lost' movement pattern, or a longer stretch of strength and balance exercise classes to increase strength, so my clear message is that it’s so important for people to seek out help from a falls service.

“These can be accessed via GPs or local health boards and could prevent so many people ending up in hospital just because of a fall.

“Research shows older people admitted in such cases can spend between 10 and 19 days in hospital. They can then get infections or become even more de-conditioned.

“We could achieve such better quality of life for people who really don’t need to be in hospital.”