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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Death rate spikes after quake

Death rate spikes after quake

Last updated 05:00 25/04/2011
Earthquake stress and disruption has caused a spike in deaths among Christchurch elderly, experts say.

Canterbury District Health Board clinical director of older persons' health Jeff Kirwan said the death rate in Christchurch rest homes had risen since the quake.

He said research showed that moving frail older people increased the mortality rate. About 500 Christchurch rest-home residents have been moved because of earthquake damage, with 300 now settled in other cities and towns.

General manager planning and funding Carolyn Gullery said there was no indication when the death rate would return to normal, but the board was monitoring it.

"Some of it's generated by the fact we had to disrupt people and move them, we know it has that impact."

Gullery said there was a risk that when older people went into care or to stay with relatives, they could get worse because they did not maintain their level of activity.

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand chairman Tony Garing said the death rate among elderly people had jumped in Christchurch after the earthquake.

"We had a lot of families saying to us that the earthquake has brought about or hastened the death of an elderly relative," he said.

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