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Move Your Body grants now open

Expressions of interest now open for the Stay On Your Feet® Move Improve Remove grants. The grants, available in amounts up to $5000, will fund projects running between 1 September and 30 November 2019. The campaigns key messages and calls to action focus on the importance of improving older adults balance and leg strength to prevent falls by finding enjoyable activities that allow for ongoing improvement.

Grants are open to community groups and not-for-profit organisations, health professionals, community workers and fitness professionals working with older adults, retirement and lifestyle villages, local government and population health units. Hospitals, residential care facilities and applicants without an ABN are not eligible. Applications close Friday 14 June.

Click here to find out more. 

Check Your Medicines campaign wrap-up

The Check Your Medicines campaign has ended, after a three-month focus on the importance of good medication management as a strategy to reduce falls amongst older adults. The campaign included events and activities for both health professionals and the wider community including a launch event in Merriwa, a media campaign and a forum held in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Society of Western Australia.

The Check Your Medicines campaign saw the launch of our third animation, Check Your Medicines with Nancy, which can be viewed along with our other animations on our videos page. Check Your Medicines also saw the introduction of a new countertop display which you can find displayed at pharmacies across the state.

Two grants were awarded as part of the Check Your Medicines campaign to help support programs aimed at addressing the campaign’s key messages. The City of Armadale held a Check Your Medicines seminar, with keynote speakers from local Armadale services, including Geriatric Consultant Dr Nicholas Waldren. City of Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones OAM, JP saw the importance of good medication management for local residents saying “If you experience any side effects, especially when taking sleeping tablets, take time to have a medicine review with your GP or Pharmacist and reduce your risk of a fall.”

Canning Vale Medical Centre also received a Check Your Medicines grant and held two events. The first event, an GP Education Day gave clinic staff including doctors, nurses and pharmacists an update on falls management, pathways and referral services. For the community, a Falls Prevention Education Day with presenters including pharmacist Dr Andrew Stafford, physiotherapist Kevin Cheung and podiatrist Carmen Mok. The event also included an interactive Tai Chi session by Master Trainer Sam Sujatna.

Even with the campaign having wrapped up you can still help older adults to prevent falls. Check out our facilitator guides to find out how you can run a session on a range of topics https://www.stayonyourfeet.com.au/health-professionals/mircampaigns/falls-prevention-educator-toolkit/.

The next campaign, Move Your Body, launches on 1 September 2019. Keep an eye on the falls prevention eNews for more information on how to get involved.

City of Armadale combat falls through education

The City of Armadale in partnership with Injury Matters are working to raise awareness of the impact of medication on falls in older residents as part of the current Stay On Your Feet® Check Your Medicines campaign. The campaign focuses on the importance of good medication management as a strategy to reduce falls amongst older adults.

The City of Armadale has over 9000 residents over the age of 60, including many people of Aboriginal heritage or from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, who are statistically at higher risk of falls. With one in three Australians over 65 having a fall each year, awareness of the role of medications in reducing the incidence of falls is vital for keeping residents independent and in their own home for as long as possible.
City of Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones OAM, JP said it is vitally important to keep track of your medications and ensure you have an up to date list of everything that you’re currently taking.

“If you experience any side effects, especially when taking sleeping tablets, take time to have a medicine review with your GP or Pharmacist and reduce your risk of a fall,” he said.

Supported by a grant from Injury Matters’ Stay On Your Feet® program, the City of Armadale recently held a Check Your Medicines seminar with keynote speakers from local Armadale services, including Geriatric Consultant Dr Nicholas Waldren.
Injury Matters Injury Prevention Manager, Rachel Meade, said good medicine management strategies help to keep older adults independent and healthy as they age.

“Simple things like speaking to your GP or pharmacist about side effects before starting a new medicine, keeping a list of your medications, or speaking to your GP or pharmacist about a medicine review can make all the difference,” Ms Meade said.

Participants of the City’s seminar were provided information on good sleep hygiene practices as an alternative option to using sleeping pills and encouraged to speak to their pharmacist for a free medicine review. A key take home message for participants was that falls are preventable.

Polypharmacy and Falls

Often, the effects of getting older results in the need to take multiple medications to treat a range of health conditions – including prescription, over the counter medications and supplements. However, polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications, increases your risk of falling.

In fact, two thirds of Australians over 75 take 5 or more medications, and half of all older adults are taking a medicine that is harmful or unnecessary.

If medicines are not taken as they are supposed to be or are combined, your body can react differently than originally intended. As well as increasing your falls risk, this can also increase your risk of receiving and consuming the wrong type or dosage of medications.

What medicine habits can cause falls?

Sometimes we can fall into medicine-related habits that may put us at risk of falls, such as:

Ignoring use-by-dates

All medicines have a use-by-date and should only be taken before its use-by-date, even if it is prescribed by a doctor.

If a medicine is past its use-by-date, the medicine may not work as it is intended to and the side effects of taking the medicine may change.

Out of date medicines can be disposed of at any pharmacy.

Sharing medication

Each medication is prescribed by a GP for a person’s specific needs. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not share medicines or use another person’s prescription.

Medicines that are not prescribed for you can result in a serious health risk.

Not knowing your interactions

If you do need to take multiple medications it is important for you to check with your GP or pharmacist about how they interact with each other.

Ways to combat your falls risk

There are simple ways you can adopt to reduce your risk of a fall, such as:

Medicine list

Keep an up to date list of their medications on you at all times, maybe in your purse or wallet.

Webster pack

A Webster Pack is a simple way to manage your medicines. They are set up by a pharmacist for a small fee. The pack has the details of all contained medicines on them and they illustrate what day and time of day to take the medicines.

Medicine Checks and Home Medicine Reviews

Free medicine checks are performed in a pharmacy and should include both prescription and non-prescription medications.

You should speak to your GP about any suggested changes. GP’s can also refer you for a free home medicines review, where a consultant pharmacist will visit you at home to review your medicines, discuss concerns and will write a report back to the GP. Home Medicine Reviews are recommended for anyone taking sleeping tablets or on more than five medications.

Sleeping Tablets Linked to Preventable Falls

As you get older, you may find yourself sleeping less or finding it more difficult to fall asleep. When this happens you might decide you should start taking sleeping tablets, however sleeping tablets can cause dizziness, light headedness, confusion and poor concentration, all of which increase your risk of having a fall.

There are many benefits of not taking sleeping tablets, including improvement in memory, increased alertness and a reduced risk of falls.

How do sleeping tablets put me at risk of a fall?

Sleeping tablets cause side effects including drowsiness and psychomotor impairment, which means your body takes more time to process even simple thoughts and movements. This can make normal acts like getting in and out of bed, or going to the bathroom at night very risky.

Sleeping tablets put you at higher risk of falling, and the number of older Australians who are prescribed sleeping tablets is rising. Luckily, there are real alternatives to improve your sleep and reduce your risk of falls.

Practise sleep hygiene as a healthy alternative to sleeping tablets

Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe good sleep habits, which you can use to help you get a good night’s sleep. If you are taking sleeping tablets you should speak to your GP about a plan to help you gradually reduce your sleeping tablet use. However, in the mean time, you can start some healthy habits such as:

Stay active during the day and avoid naps

Getting more active throughout the day can make a big difference to your sleep. By moving your body during the day, your muscles will need more time to recover – meaning you will have a restful and longer sleep at night. By avoiding the temptation of an afternoon nap, this too improves the depth of your sleep at night. By keeping your sleeping patterns regular, your body will follow a healthy pattern of wake and rest, reducing your need for sleeping aids.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes

Alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes impact systems in your body which are responsible for rest. Both caffeine and cigarettes disrupt sleeping patterns by speeding up your bodily processes, while caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol also dehydrate your body – leading to light or restless sleep.

Read before bed

Many people enjoy watching TV at night time, however the light from the screen impacts your sleep patterns as much as sunlight. Combat this by settling into bed with a good book for a while before bed. Both the rhythm of reading and the soft light will slowly work to put you to sleep.

It’s also a great idea to keep a sleep diary to keep a record of what sleep hygiene methods work best for you.

Get a medicine review

Free medicine checks are performed in a pharmacy and should include both prescription and non-prescription medications. You should speak to their GP about any suggested changes.

If you are using sleeping tablets or taking multiple medications speak to your GP about a referral for a free home medicine review, where a consultant pharmacist will visit your home to review your medicines, discuss concerns and write a report back to your GP.

Falls are preventable when you Check Your Medicines

The good news is falls are preventable, speak to your GP or Pharmacist if you experience side effects or are taking sleeping tablets.

Call 1300 30 35 40 and ask for your free Check Your Medicines information pack.

Check Your Medicines to Prevent Falls

Older adults are reminded to check their medicines, with Injury Matters program Stay On Your Feet®’s latest campaign, Check Your Medicines.

The Check Your Medicines campaign launched on 1 February 2019, focusing on the importance of good medication management as a strategy to reduce falls amongst older adults.

How do medicines impact falls risk?

As part of ageing, older adults may experience physiological changes which result in the need to begin taking medicines, and in some cases multiple medications. Getting older also increases the body’s responsiveness to the effects of medications and the side effects which they may cause.

Some medications, like sleeping tablets, can cause multiple side effects. Side effects of such medication, such as reduced mental alertness, blurred vision, dizziness and headaches can all be major contributing factors for falls.
Each year, one in three Australians over 65 have a fall, but falls are preventable. Managing your medicines plays an important role in reducing your risk.

Tips for Managing your Medicines to Prevent Falls

Simple things can make all the difference in falls prevention. Older adults are encouraged to:

  • Speak to their GP or Pharmacist about a medicine review
  • Keep track of their medications with an up to date list
  • Speak to their GP or Pharmacist if experiencing side effects or are taking sleeping tablets.
  • Before starting a new medicine, ask the Pharmacist to explain the benefits and what side effects to watch out for.

Get involved with the Check Your Medicines campaign

Check Your Medicines with Nancy, the new animation launched alongside the Check Your Medicines campaign, provides simple tips on how to reduce the risk of medicine-related falls through the characters Nancy and her pup, Bailey.

The Check Your Medicines campaign runs from 1 February – 30 April 2019. Campaign information and services are available our website, by signing up to the Falls Prevention eNews for health and community workers or the News and Views for older adults.

For health and community workers helping older adults to stay healthy and independent for longer, the campaign offers information and resources which promote simple, practical tips to promote the safe use of medicines.

To find out more, go to www.stayonyourfeet.com.au or call 1300 30 35 40.

Staying Safe Over Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate, relax and spend quality time with loved ones, but it is also the most common time of year for injuries to occur. There are some unique hazards that come about at Christmas time, and we are often so busy with our festivities we can be distracted when it comes to keeping ourselves safe.  Lights and decorations are a common cause of injuries around this time of the year. By taking the time to be aware of your environment and potential hazards, you can make sure you don’t injure yourself or your loved ones this Christmas. Here are some tips on how you can stay safe while getting into the festive spirit:

 

If you are purchasing Christmas lights, ask the following questions:

  • Are these lights low voltage?
  • Are these lights Australian compliant? If you are purchasing lights online from overseas, they may be a different voltage, may not have a safety switch and may not comply with Australian Safety Standards.
  • Are these lights outdoor approved? If you are putting up lights outside, it is important to check they are outdoor approved. Outdoor lights have additional weatherproofing to ensure they are safe, which indoor-only lights don’t have. The higher the weatherproof rating, the safer the lights will be.

If you already have Christmas lights, make sure you check them before putting them up. Most of us will only use our lights once a year, so it’s important to remember they won’t last forever! Even good quality lights will eventually need to be replaced. If you see any signs of rusting, fraying, or flickering, it is time to replace your lights.

When you’re putting up decorations:

  • Remember ladder safety. Always make sure someone else is home when you are using a ladder, always maintain three points of contact and never have more than one person on the ladder at once. Ask someone else to put your decorations up if you don’t feel confident.
  • Keep lights and other electric decorations away from pools and wet areas.
  • Ensure hallways, paths and walkways are kept clear and clutter free. Christmas light cables, decorations, presents and anything else which could clutter up floor space and become a trip hazard should be kept off the floor and out of the way. This is especially important if there will be more people present in the space than usual.

Once your decorations are up:

  • Test your smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be tested throughout the whole year, but especially during the warmer months and if you are using Christmas lights or other electric decorations.
  • Turn of all electricity powered decorations if you are going out or going to bed. Lights should never be left on unattended or overnight or used during bad weather.

Following these simple tips will help keep you safe – so you can enjoy your festivities without the fear of injury from an RCD (Rouge Christmas Decoration!).

Australia and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference 2018 in Hobart, Tasmania

The 8th biennial Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference was held in Hobart, Tasmania from 18th – 20th November 2018. The conference, held by the Australian New Zealand Falls Prevention Society, was a unique opportunity for those researching and working in the area of falls and falls prevention. The hugely diverse audience, ranging from university researchers, clinicians working with the community, policy makers and health promotion practitioners, ensured the presentations were extremely varied.

Session topics ranged from falls in the community, vision impairment, falls in Asia, understanding brain mechanisms and clinical and hospital settings. Falls research was a hot topic, with many international and leading national falls researchers sharing their works, findings and lessons for the future.

The advancement of technology to help aid falls prevention was another key theme which ran through the conference, with many keynote speakers discussing the role of technology in preventing falls in both a clinical and home setting. Using technology as a portable exercise tool was discussed in numerous presentations, with a focus on the ability for community members to complete exercises in their own homes. Tailored smartphone apps, take home exercise DVDs, and mobile weekly fact sheets all had varying results, however provided some key lessons for future work in this space. Major developments in clinical technology included an online program for GP’s. The iSOLVE (Integrated Solutions for Sustainable Fall Prevention) decision tool was incorporated into GP clinical software, to assist with falls management in older patients.

Injury Matters staff Sonya and Chloe both attended and presented at the conference, on training for non-allied health professionals and the value of developing a balance exercise video for older adults. Training non-allied health professionals was found to improve their awareness and confidence in delivering evidence-informed falls prevention exercise strategies in older adults. Providing a workshop, resources and ongoing support enabled them to build falls prevention strategies into their practice.

A falls prevention exercise video for older adults to use in their own home was created to increase awareness of the importance of balance and enable community members to complete safe balance exercises independently. However, upon evaluation, it was found that whilst digital education can increase awareness of falls prevention strategies, strategies to overcome barriers to uptake should be considered in the developmental stage.

Running over three days, the conference was a fantastic networking and research-sharing opportunity for all those working in the field and provided a chance for communication between different programs, organisations, states and countries.

Strengthen Your Legs Grants awarded

Four grants were awarded as part of the Stay On Your Feet® Strengthen Your Legs campaign. The grants aim to support community focused programs address the campaigns’ key messages. The Town of Cambridge, Goldfields Physio, the Pojulu Community of WA and the Shire of Denmark all ran programs with a focus on leg strength in older adults as part of the Strengthen Your Legs campaign.

  • The Town of Cambridge ran the town’s pilot Falls Prevention Program with 10 residents. Weekly classes consisted of physiotherapist prescribed exercises with a focus on leg strength and preventing falls.
  • Goldfields Physio conducted a 12 week exercise and education program for older adults living in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area.
  • The Pojulu Community of WA held a number of community information sessions for older adults in their community. The sessions focused on the importance of physical activity and healthy ageing. Community leaders were also trained to establish a culturally appropriate community walking group.
  • The Shire of Denmark ran a circuit-style exercise program specifically for men ages 65 years and older living within the region.

Active Balance Workshop in Geraldton

Falls and fall-related injuries place a significant burden on the health system and can have a profound and long-lasting impact on an individual and their family.

On Tuesday 4th September 2018, 19 allied health assistants and aged care workers came together in Geraldton to learn more about the link between staying active and reducing the impact and incidence of falls among older Australians through an Active Balance workshop led by Stay On Your Feet® Physiotherapist Sonya Clark.

During the workshop participants received insight into the incidence and impact of falls and were able to experience firsthand how different health and age related risk factors can affect mobility and balance. They also explored ways they could help identify falls risk in people they encountered in their roles. Practical sessions provided experiences that highlighted the importance of balance and what they could do in their everyday practice to prevent falls in older Australians living in their community. This included practical evidence-informed exercise strategies that they could incorporate into their existing programs to support older adults to improve their strength and balance and prevent falls.

To see what upcoming training is available in your area or register your interest for future training opportunities, click here.

Stay On Your Feet® is provided by Injury Matters and funded by the Western Australian Department of Health.

Find out more
Government of Western Australia Department of Health Injury Matters