Stay active, stay healthy, live stronger for longer.
Falling over is not a natural part of the ageing process and many falls are preventable.
Preventing falls is an important part of older people's health. Experiencing a fall can bring not only the risk of injury, but can affect people's confidence and lead to further restriction of activities. However, this in turn can reduce one's exercise and strength, further increasing the risk of falls.
This is why many programmes and advice are available, focusing on the following areas, to support our older people to prevent falls, and to maintain strength and balance.
Targeted exercise programmes are designed to prevent falls and usually consist of leg muscle strengthening and balance retraining exercises.
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, you could benefit from the strength and balance exercises.
- Have you slipped, tripped or fallen in the last year?
- Can you get out of a chair without using your hands?
- Have you avoided some activities because you are afraid you might lose your balance?
The B-Well Falls and Fracture Prevention Team can assess to see if a home-based exercise and walking programme is the right option.
Based on the Otago Exercise Programme, these exercises can help reduce the risk of falling. Exercises can be increased in difficulty and frequency as your strength and balance improve.
Simple changes at home can reduce the risk of having a fall. A home safety checklist can also be found on the ACC Live Stronger for Longer website.
Community Strength and Balance
Community group classes that have received the ‘tick of approval’ can be found on the ACC Live Stronger for Longer website:
The ‘tick of approval’ is only awarded to classes that meet the evidence-based criteria of effectiveness. This helps you to know that the class you choose is one that offers exercise to reduce your risk of falling. Here in the south, we have a wide range of classes available including gym circuits, Zumba Gold and gentle exercise.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become thin and fragile, making them more prone to fractures. Worldwide, it affects one in three women aged over 50 years and one in five men. The most common fractures are of the wrist, spine, hip and upper arm. They are caused by a minimal degree of trauma such as a fall from standing height or less and can result in a lifetime of disability and pain, even death. Awareness of the risk and early diagnosis are the key to the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis-related fractures. You can find tools to help you identify possible risk factors at Osteoporosis New Zealand
Health Navigator also provides excellent resources and advice for avoiding falls.
Working together to prevent falls
ACC, the Ministry of Health, and the Health Quality and Safety Commission have come together to support the development of national and local strategies to deliver a falls prevention scheme to help New Zealanders keep their independence and to stay safe on their feet.
The B-Well, Falls and Fracture Prevention Team at WellSouth offers:
- Fracture liaison – working with GP’s to identify patients who are at risk of fractures related to osteoporosis.
- Home-based falls prevention exercise interventions
- Lead agency for the development and support of Community Strength and Balance Groups.
- A single point of contact for falls prevention in the Southern DHB region, working closely with other community services to ensure people can access the intervention that is most needed.
If you would like to refer yourself or speak to a member of the B-Well Falls and Fracture Prevention Team:
- call 0800 477 115
If you are a health professional and would like to refer someone:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org OR
- use ERMS (under ‘Community Programmes’).