Asthma deaths among older and frail people should be regarded as an issue for all health practitioners, according to a senior researcher from the Royal District Nursing Service’s research institute.
RDNS senior researcher, Dr Dianne Goeman, says asthma deaths among older people are "disproportionately high", with this group having the highest admission rates for asthma.
According to Dr Goeman, RDNS nurses are at the "frontline" of home nursing and healthcare and are "in a position to see firsthand the extent of the problem".
Dr Goeman will soon present research into the circumstances surrounding asthma deaths in Australia since 2005, with the main findings revealing the need for further targeted interventions to reduce asthma deaths among older people.
Despite deaths from asthma decreasing in Australia over the past three decades, Dr Goeman claims the number of older people with asthma has not decreased as "sharply" as it had in younger people.
She says asthma mortality, in fact, increases with age, revealing between 2005 and 2008, 64% of asthma deaths were in those aged over 70 years.
"Asthma s predicted to continue to be a major disease burden in Australia over the next two decades and health care expenditure on asthma, particularly those over 50 years is expected to increase exponentially," she says.
Previous research by Dr Goeman has revealed asthma self-management in older people is often "not optimal". However, research to determine the reasons for the large number of asthma deaths in Australia has not been undertaken since the late 1990s.