Falls among elderly people cost the NHS more than £4.6 million a day
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.
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. 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.
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.”
Age related hearing loss and decline in balance
Age related hearing loss is among the most common impairments forming the ninth most severe disorder in EU. Over 44 million people suffer with hearing loss in the EU. As the mean age of the population increases the number of people with hard of hearing will also increase. In addition to the hearing loss, the vestibular part of the inner ear undergoes degenerative changes during ageing and produces a decline in balance that may provoke accidental falls or fear of falls.
These changes are largely genetically predisposed and part of the genetic code responsible for this susceptibility has been identified. However, medical prevention and treatment is restricted by the fact that the inner ear is difficult to access as it is buried deep in the temporal bone and isolated from circulation by tight barriers.
Professor Ilmari Pyykko
Professor Ilmari Pyykko is Professor and Head of the Department of Ear-, Nose- and Throat Diseases at the University of Tampere in Finland. Professor Pyykko coordinates the EU FP6 Nanoear project which is developing therapies for inner ear disorders. Using nanoparticles that are targetable to selected cell populations, biodegradable, traceable in-vivo and equipped with controlled drug release, Nanoear is developing approaches that may revolutionise inner ear treatments. With over 44 million EU citizens with hearing loss and 40 000 profoundly deaf who could immediately benefit from new approaches, the inner ear is a unique and compelling organ to investigate. Professor Pyykko’s group has also an outstanding record on epidemiologic studies in hearing loss and modelling of hearing loss with over 300 papers on hearing, its mechanisms and modelling.
At the Institute of Nanotechnology’s forthcoming Conference Advanced Technologies for an Ageing Population to be held in Glasgow on 23/24 March 2011, Professor Pyykkö will describe Nanoear’s work on restoring hearing and balance in the elderly and how nanotechnology offers exciting prospects to address this challenge.
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