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An international study has linked falls, a frequent cause of accidental death in the elderly, to depression.

A study of 300 people aged 65 and over in Taiwan by Australian researchers found those who were depressed were more likely to have experienced falls.

Professor Stephen Lord from Neuroscience Research Australia said the study was able to eliminate anti-depressants as a factor in depression-related falls.

"This study means that in addition to enhancing vision, strength and balance, health programs around the world designed to prevent falling in older people also need to consider mental health," Professor Lord said.

Forty per cent of recurrent fallers, 28 per cent of those who fell once, and only 16 per cent of people who did not fall, were depressed.

The research was published in the journal Age and Ageing.