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Learn how you can strengthen your legs to prevent falls with Julie and her cat Tiddles

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Everyday Use of Strength and Balance

Everyday activities can help you move your body to strong. Common everyday tasks can help maintain your mobility while also challenging your strength and balance. Check out the suggestions below for activities that can improve your strength and balance. As a reminder, when starting a new activity, it is important to listen to your body and not overdo it to prevent injuries.

Gardening

Gardening is a great activity for incidental exercise, whether it’s digging, planting, or carrying water. These activities give all major muscle groups a good workout – from your legs, glutes, arms, stomach and back. Strengthening these muscle groups helps you to avoid falls, as they all work together to keep you balanced and on your feet.

While you’re working, you will also be absorbing vitamin D from the sunlight, which is important for bone health, but ensure you are wearing appropriate sunscreen and clothing. There is also the sense of accomplishment you’ll enjoy from your beautiful garden!

Cleaning

Incidental activities like vacuuming or hanging laundry are great ways to get your body moving. You can increase the intensity of your work by putting up-tempo music on while you clean. This will help you speed up the rate of your activity, and you can always bust a move (safely!) while you clean. Stretching while dusting or squatting to put items away are great ways to incorporate full body exercises.

Like gardening, cleaning is a full body work out – so be careful to not overdo it, and always be safe with your movements.

Sit to Standing

Getting in and out of seating can be difficult without good balance. Going from standing to sitting (or vice versa) is a good activity to challenge your strength. It is a good idea to practice getting up from your regular armchair without using your hands for stability – make sure to engage your core and leg muscles. Being confident in getting up from a chair will assist in manoeuvring challenging tasks like getting in and out of the car, or off the toilet.

It’s important to start slow and ask for assistance if you need to.

Walking

Just walking over changing flooring – from carpet or floorboards to outdoor bricks and asphalt – can be a challenge for your balance. Having good leg strength and balance can help you adjust to differences in steps, slopes and ground inconsistencies. From checking the letterbox to walking your dog, to simply moving from one room to another, walking well is an important skill to maintain as you age.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are losing confidence in walking, as something as simple as a walking aid can keep you independent longer.

Need to work on your strength and balance to prevent falls?

Use our free strength and balance exercise flyers here to get started, or find a challenge on the Stay On Your Feet® e-Directory! You can also call us today on 1300 303 540 to order your FREE Move Your Body information pack.

2019 Western Australian Falls Report

Through the Stay On Your Feet® program, Injury Matters has developed the inaugural Western Australian Falls Report.

This report provides one document that captures the incidence of falls-related fatalities, hospitalisations, emergency department attendances and ambulance transportations due to falls in WA. The findings indicate that a Western Australian dies from a fall every 26 hours, is hospitalised due to a falls-related incident every 20 minutes and attends an emergency department every 12 minutes as the result of a fall.

Alongside the high overall incidence of falls in WA the report found that older adults, individuals living in regional areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experienced higher rates of falls-related injuries in WA in 2016 and 2017.

Thankfully, in WA there is a workforce of dedicated professionals and organisations, like Injury Matters, working across WA to reduce the incidence of falls and support Western Australians to maintain their quality of life and their independence. However, there is still opportunities to do more including; shifting attitudes towards falls, improving access to robust falls surveillance data and affordable evidence-based strength and balance exercise options for older adults.

To support the reduction of the impact of falls-related injuries in WA, we encourage you to share the report’s findings and engage in falls prevention activities provided by Injury Matters.

Falls Prevention Benefits of Moving Every day

As we age, it’s important we keep our bodies active and strong. There are many reasons to move your body every day. Just 30 minutes of activity each day will pay off with boosted energy, fitness, independence, heart health, as well as a happy mind and mood.

Older Couple Jogging in Autumnal Park

Fitness and Strength for Falls Prevention

Bursts of activity increase your heartrate and helps to maintain physical strength. A strong heart and body will not only support living independently, but also help you enjoy your years.

Australian research shows building muscular strength decreases the risk of a fall. Maintaining your physical fitness every day can assist in maintaining your weight, improving muscle strength, balancing your blood pressure, alongside building or maintaining optimal bone density. A strong body is important at every age to keep doing the things you enjoy.

You can strengthen your legs with everyday activities like cleaning and gardening. You could also try group exercise classes, or a home based program. See our free strength and balance exercise flyers here.

Older People Sitting Man Yoga Smile

Balance and Falls Prevention

Balance is vital in preventing falls as we age. Good balance can be summarised as the ability to adapt to a change in movement in a smooth and efficient way – in other words, without having a slip, trip or fall!

Staying active and doing exercises that strengthen your legs and challenge your balance daily will help you reduce the impact of changes in your balance over time. Balance exercises should be progressed gradually and become more difficult as your balance improves.

Try activities such as tai chi or lawn bowls which involve leaning forwards, backwards or to the side. Find a class to challenge yourself on the Stay On Your Feet® e-Directory here, or speak to your doctor or fitness professional about what exercises are right for you.

Call us today on 1300 303 540 to order your FREE Move Your Body information pack to get started.

Older Couple Dance in Kitchen

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

There are many mental benefits to keeping active every day. Exercise acts as a natural stress reliever, as it releases endorphins to reduce sadness, depression or anxiety. This can also assist you in maintaining a quality sleep schedule, meaning you sleep more deeply and wake more refreshed.

Staying active and strong can also help you feel more confident in doing everyday activities too. By dedicating just 30 minutes a day to moving your body, you can be confident in what your body can achieve and what you can handle.

You can start moving your body each day just by gardening or walking the dog. If you’re ready, you can attend group fitness classes like Living Longer Living Stronger – but make sure you ask your physiotherapist, GP or local recreation centre for advice first.

Move Your Body Launched!

Yesterday, 4 September 2019, we launched the Move Your Body campaign, in collaboration with the City of Melville, at LeisureFit Melville with Tai Chi and Active Light exercise classes.

 
The Move Your Body campaign focuses on the importance of strong legs and good balance for staying independent and helping to prevent falls as we age.

As we age, our risk for a fall increases due to physical changes in our body. With 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 having a fall each year, it’s important to know the role good balance and strength have in healthy ageing.

Participants had a great time trying out different exercises and getting to know one another, embracing health and active ageing.


Want to start moving your body to prevent falls? Call us on 1300 30 35 40 to order your FREE information pack to get started!

Find out more about the Stay On Your Feet® program and how to prevent falls at www.stayonyourfeet.com.au

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.

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