An older couple living in north Queensland have died in tragic accidents in their family home in Ayr.
Police were called to the home of 85 and 78 year olds Sib and Maria Grasso around midday yesterday. Upon arrival, they found 85 year old Sib on the ground with severe head wounds, and his wife, 78 year old Maria, having experienced a medical episode.
It appeared that Mr Grasso had fallen out of his personal lift, falling to a concrete slab where he sustained fatal head injuries. Mrs Grasso, in an unrelated incident, had suffered a medical episode, resulting in her death later in hospital.
The couple were taken to Townsville University Hospital where they both died later that night. Police have launched an investigation into their deaths, with the Ayr criminal investigation branch spending the day analysing the scene. Police have said that they intend to put together a report for the coroner.
Mr Grasso’s death has caused advocate groups to speak out about the potential dangers of personal lifts and other mobility devices. Chief advocate for National Seniors Australia, Ian Henschke, said that with more older people choosing to live independently in their homes, the frequency of incidents caused by malfunctions is increasing.
“This device, which may appear to be something that’s useful to get up and down the stairs, has got dangers with it,” he said.
“You have to be very careful with a device like this because some of them have the ability to lift the arm or the thigh, and so then it’s possible to fall out of it,” he said.
“That has happened in cases in the UK.”
When it comes to making decisions that are best for the health and wellbeing of older members of our families, Mr Henschke said living in single story homes is best practice.
“Consider safety of loved ones… Stairs are dangerous even for healthy people,” Mr Henschke said.
“This is a problem particularly in Queensland and north Queensland where you have people negotiating stairs.
“If you are the relative, friend, family member of someone who is using one of these devices and they are very frail, I think it is time for people to talk about their living conditions.”
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