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Abstract

Purpose: Older carers play an important role in falls prevention through their influence over their dependent’s actions and by their own behaviour. This study aimed to determine the perceptions of falls and fall-related risk factors by older carers in an Australian metropolitan community to inform the development of effective falls prevention strategies in this population. Method: A questionnaire was mailed to all members of a carers group in January 2003 and responses from carers aged 60 years or above were included in the study (n=121). Results: The majority of older carers (85%) understood that falls are a problem for their age group and that falls can be prevented (74%). Poor pavement maintenance and balance problems were rated as the most important risk factors for falls. The importance of unsafe behaviour as a falls risk was undervalued. The majority of respondents (74%) indicated they would talk to their doctor if they were concerned about falling. Conclusions and Recommendations: The results of this study indicate that older carers in a metropolitan community acknowledge falls are both important and preventable. The awareness of unsafe behaviour as a falls risk factor needs to be raised. Health professionals are trusted by older carers and should discuss falls prevention strategies with both the older patient and their carer. The next stage is to explore if older carers understand how they can reduce the risk of falling for themselves and their dependents, and how to effectively engage and enable older carers to do this successfully.

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