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Don’t let your leg strength trip you up

One in three older adults over the age of 65 years old will have a fall every year in Australia. One in three. This may have surprised you, but it shouldn’t. Most people would know someone who has experienced a fall, but it is not a health issue that is often discussed. The usual, “oh, they are getting older, so of course they are more unsteady, of course they had a fall…” is a fairly common myth, when talking about the health of our parents, grandparents, friends or neighbours.

But what if I told you that falls are preventable?

What if I told you that there are many things you can do to prevent falls, and most of them are things people already know and have learnt throughout their whole life. Simple, easy things that take hardly any time at all, but which will make a huge difference to your health.

As simple as it may seem, having strong legs is one key factor in preventing falls.

We need strong legs for absolutely everything in life; getting out of bed in the morning, going for walks, picking up the grandkids, walking through the shops, the list goes on. You would have heard the saying; ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ and this is so true. We spend most of our time sitting, however simply moving our legs will help to keep them strong.

The Stay On Your Feet® program, provided  by Injury Matters, encourages older adults to  move their body to help keep them active, strong and independent for as long as possible.Strong legs are one of the keys to keeping you healthy and independent for longer,” according to Injury Prevention Manager, Rachel Meade. Ms Meade says it is not always necessary to enrol in classes or visit a physiotherapist to find out ways of improving muscle strength; “simply getting up out of the chair a few times during the commercial breaks or walking to the mailbox and back a few times a day all help strengthen your legs. The trick is to keep making the exercises harder as you get stronger”.

For those that still enjoy being part of social sports and clubs, activities such as golf, tennis, lawn bowls, dancing and swimming have been found to be excellent for keeping your legs strong. “The best thing about these activities, is that they can be played both individually or in part of a group which makes it much more enjoyable and great for mental health.”

The team at Injury Matters is offering free Strengthen Your Legs information packs that can be used from the comfort of your own home, as well as other tips on how to prevent falls. To get your free resources, or for more information call 1300 30 35 40 or e-mail info@stayonyourfeet.com.au.

Alternatively, ask a physiotherapist, leisure centre fitness instructor, tai chi instructor or GP for some strengthening and balance exercises that might suit you.

Getting a leg up on falls

Strong legs are important at every age and will keep you doing the things you enjoy.

Strengthen Your Legs with Julie promotes some of the different ways you can strengthen your legs to prevent falls, with a light-hearted twist through the characters Julie and her cat Tiddles. Follow Julie and Tiddles as they try their hands at different activities like tai chi, gym exercises and tennis.

The five activities everyone is doing to prevent falls

I’ll let you in on a little secret; many older adults are being more active than ever and are keeping fit and strong doing activities they love. New research has shown that many of your favourite past times and hobbies have scientific evidence supporting the benefits of these activities on people’s health and fitness.  Five of these activities are so popular, they all have clubs and programs throughout the state, where teams and communities of older adults get together each week.

Golf

Throughout the world, golf is attracting record numbers, with many people, both young and old enjoying the social, mental and physical benefits that come from walking around on the green. Studies have shown that golf is great for balance, coordination and power, as well as getting in your recommended 30 minutes a day, with all that walking.

Swimming

Swimming is a great low impact exercise that fits perfect with Perth’s warm and sunny climate, though can be done all year round. Whether you’re a summer-only swimmer, enjoy the occasional splash or you swear by your daily morning swim, being in the water also brings with it many other benefits to your body, strengthening your muscles and improving your endurance and power.

Lawn Bowls

A long-time favourite, lawn bowls is much more than a social stand around. Lawn bowls is a tactical game which requires great balance, endurance and cognition. Both social and competitive bowls are popular, with lawn bowls centres and courts around WA.

Tennis

Tennis ticks all the boxes. It is fantastic for balance, coordination, strength, power, agility and cognition. With lots of quick movements across the court, tennis challenges reaction times while also allowing continuous movements and rhythms.

Dancing

Dancing, dancing, dancing. We all love to dance, whether it’s in front of a crowd, as part of a club or a sneaky boogie in the lounge room. Dancing makes us happy, it challenges us and it brings us together with other people. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun. Studies have found that dancing also brings with it many other benefits, improving balance and flexibility, working on our coordination and strengthening our legs.

Click here to view our recreational activities posters.

Five ways you can prevent falls

 

Staying strong and fit doesn’t always mean marathon runs and expensive gym memberships. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the house to keep your legs strong. Stay On Your Feet® have developed a Strengthen Your Legs Exercise Flyer which has five easy leg strengthening exercises for people of all ages and abilities.

 

You can do these exercises from the comfort of your own home, in your living room, back garden or even kitchen. Exercises like the knee extension or the sit to stand, can be done seated while watching your favourite show, or during the commercial breaks. Just five minutes a day is all it takes to get your legs moving and keep those muscles strong.

 

To order your free copy of the Strengthen Your Legs Exercise flyer or for more information, please call 1300 30 35 40 or email info@stayonyourfeet.org.au.

 

Strengthen Your Legs A4 flyer - front side

Make Your Home Safer campaign wrap-up

Stay On Your Feet®’s Make Your Home Safer campaign has come to a close, after a three-month focus on the importance of removing hazards in and around the home to make the home safer and reduce the risk of falls. The campaign included a number of events and activities for both health professionals and the wider community including a launch event in Mandurah, a media campaign and a forum for those working in health and community care.

The Make Your Home Safer campaign saw the launch of our first animation, Make Your Home Safer with Frank and Tiddles. The animation was a hit receiving 1,500 views on Youtube and 6,700 views on Facebook. Frank and Tiddles were also turned into life-size cut-outs and have been making their way across WA, providing older adults with Home Safety Checklists.

Four grants were awarded as part of the Make Your Home Safer campaign to help support community focused programs aimed at addressing the campaign’s key messages.

The Shire of Cuballing hosted a Stay On Your Feet® day for seniors. The event included stall holders, education sessions from local health professionals, balance testing, yoga and Tai Chi sessions.

The Shire of Victoria Plains delivered a day of Make Your Home Safer workshops which included presentations from an Occupational Therapist, practical demonstrations, a site visit to a local farm to address home safety for those living in farms and several guest speakers.

Regis Day Therapy Nedlands and Black Swan Health both received grants to deliver the Stepping On program. The evidence based program runs for 7 weeks and gave participants increased confidence and tools to remain active and independent in their communities.

The next campaign, Strengthen Your Legs, launches on 1 September 2018. Keep an eye on our website for more information on how to get involved.

Staying active during the summer

Summer time in Western Australia is a time to come together with family and friends. It is filled with school holidays, the festive season and the New Year, all happy and celebratory occasions. It is often a time where routines and habits are thrown out the window, and with extremely high temperatures, most try and stay indoors and out of the heat. But there are many ways older adults can stay active during the summer, without giving up all the social obligations of the season and without getting caught in the heat.

Joining a sport or activity class is common for many people in the New Year, with plenty of options available to suit people’s interests or hobbies. Try joining a class with a friend or partner. Water aerobics, swimming and other water based activities are excellent choices for the summer season as well as being great for a person’s health and fitness. Mall walking can also be a great activity to take up as it is in an air-conditioned environment, with plenty of rests and options available.

Stay On Your Feet® volunteer Jenny enjoys playing golf all year round and finds the social sport great for catching up with friends and keeping physically and mentally healthy. Although a seasoned golfer, she knows the risks of playing in the summer sun and takes precautions which allow her to still be active and enjoy the sport she loves.

Jenny recommends avoiding the hottest times of the day if being active outside. Often, the mornings or evenings are much cooler times to do activities, whether it be going for walks, playing with grandkids, or participating in sports. It is also a good idea to stay in the shade where you can, wear a hat and appropriate clothing and apply SPF 50+ sunscreen often.

No matter what you are doing, drinking and carrying water with you at all times is extremely important, especially in the warmer months. Often, the body doesn’t feel thirsty until a person is dehydrated, so it is important to drink throughout the day and have water with you, especially when being active.

Staying active during the summer can be enjoyable and great for your health too. Finding time to fit in being active, despite the busy time of year, and taking precautions in the heat will enable you to stay strong and independent and prevent falls.

For more information on staying strong, healthy and independent and to get a free copy of the Stay On Your Feet® Balance Video and exercise flyers, contact 1300 30 35 40, email info@stayonyourfeet.com.au or visit www.stayonyourfeet.com.au.

Media note: ‘Early play vital for lifelong strength’

Injury Matters is a not-for-profit organisation that leads the way in preventing injury and supporting recovery by providing programs and services that enable Western Australians to live long and healthy lives. Injury Matters programs include Stay On Your Feet®, WA’s falls prevention program for older adults living in the community, educating community members, health professionals and community workers how to keep active and alert to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Rachel Meade, Injury Prevention Manager provided the following comments in relation to the Early play vital for lifelong strength article:

  • Injury Matters encourages the Western Australian community to recognise that’s falls are not a normal part of ageing, however action does need to be taken to prevent them. In Western Australia in 2012, there were 16,762 hospitalisations for falls, consuming an estimated 61,124 bed days at an approximate cost of $117,957,168.
  • Injury Matters strongly encourage people to be physically active at all ages, and recognise that it is never too late to start. While peak bone mass is experienced at a younger age, it is clear that gradual, age-related decline does occur. Older adults are able to retain their bone mass through regular, ongoing weight baring exercises. Specific exercises are also available for those experiencing musculoskeletal disorders including arthritis and osteoporosis. Older adults can contact Stay On Your Feet® for further information.
  • Melbourne researchers note that strong and active children can reliably be predicted to be strong and healthy adults, however physical activity should be carried on through adulthood. Injury Matters is concerned that people, particularly between their 40’s-60’s may see a fall as an older person’s problem, however starting strength and balance exercises at a younger age and carrying them through later years is the best way to falls. We remind people that the consequences of falls can be debilitating and lifelong, however they can also be prevented.
  • Social disadvantage impacts many older adults in Western Australia, and even more so in regional areas. Older adults of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds are also at a higher risk of social disadvantage and falls than non-Aboriginal Australians and are 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalised, and 2.7 times more likely to die, as a result of a fall than non-Aboriginal people.
  • Each year injury costs the Western Australian economy billions of dollars in deaths, emergency department presentations, hospitalisations and time away from work. In 2012, the total cost of injury was $9.6 billion.

Contact:  Rachel Meade

Ph: 08 9420 7212

Email:  rmeade@injurymatters.org.au

Build Your Balance Campaign

Stay on Your Feet®’s Build Your Balance campaign finished on 30 November 2017, after a three month focus on the importance of building and maintaining balance to reduce the risk of falls. The campaign was a huge success and included a number of events and activities for both health professionals and the wider community including a launch event in Narrogin and a forum for health professionals.

Four grants were awarded as part of the Build Your Balance campaign to help support community focused programs aimed at addressing the campaign’s key messages:
• Stay Steady in Canning Vale received a grant to help older members of the Indian community stay on their feet with a tailored strength and balance program.
• The City of Armadale received a grant to train professionals from the health and fitness industry in falls prevention for older adults.
• The Shire of Murray ran balance focused chair yoga and warm water yoga classes for older adults.
• A joint application was awarded to the Cities of Gosnells and Canning to run a balance-focused chair tai chi program.

Through requests, orders and community displays during the campaign, 800 copies of the new Build Your Balance exercise video were distributed as well as receiving over 1,500 views on YouTube. During the campaign, Stay On Your Feet® peer educators presented to 33 community groups focusing on the importance of building and maintaining balance to prevent falls. Stay On Your Feet® also attended 11 community displays and expos and received over 280 community enquiries.

The next campaign, Make Your Home Safer launches on 1 February 2018. Keep an eye on our website for more information on how to get involved.

Building balance the key to staying on your feet in City of Armadale

Injury Matters has awarded the City of Armadale a $5000 Stay On Your Feet® grant to train professionals from the fitness and medical industry in falls prevention for older adults.

Tony Petta, a senior physiotherapist working in falls prevention at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will deliver the training.  Those trained will then pass on their knowledge in the community.

City of Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones OAM, JP said the funding will assist to train those working with older adults in the area, and help them learn new skills, or upgrade their knowledge.

“We know that people want to remain in their own homes and stay independent. Providing extra training for those working with them will be a great help and reduce the risk of falls with older people in the community,” he said.

Injury Prevention Manager Rachel Meade said building your balance is one of the key ways for older adults to stay on their feet and help protect themselves from a fall.

“We congratulate the City of Armadale for this initiative, and look forward to this training being undertaken, and passing on this training to older adults in their community.  This will help them keep fit and reduce their risk of falls so they can keep enjoying life in the community,” she said.

This round of Stay On Your Feet® grants are part of the Build Your Balance campaign, which aims to improve older adults balance to reduce their risk of having a slip, trip or fall.  Activities that improve an older adult’s balance and posture, and strengthens muscles and bones, can also improve overall fitness and general wellbeing.

“One in every ten bed days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 and older in 2010-11 was directly attributable to a fall,” Ms Meade said.

“We want people to know that falls are preventable, and that by, keeping a healthy mind through activities and social groups, building your balance along with strengthening your legs, removing trip hazards from your home, people can avoid falls and stay independent,”

“Other than the huge emotional and physical cost of a fall, which can be very painful and affect your independence, there is also a very significant financial cost to the community – falls cost about $2.2 billion per year in WA alone,”

Injury Matters coordinates Stay On Your Feet® which promotes how to keep active and alert through the Move Improve Remove campaigns and prevent slips, trips and falls.

Injury Matters aims to empower, influence and collaborate with the WA community to prevent injury and support recovery, because it believes all West Australians can live life uninterrupted by injury.

For more information visit www.stayonyourfeet.com.au or www.injurymatters.org.au.

Building balance the key to staying on your feet in the Shire of Murray

Injury Matters has awarded the Shire of Murray a $2000 grant to help its older members stay on their feet with balance-focused chair yoga and warm water yoga classes.

Shire of Murray President Cr Maree Reid said Murray Leisure Centre currently offers a range of aerobic sessions for the more active seniors, but this would provide additional options for those with limited mobility or who have difficulty balancing.

“These classes will help increase flexibility, improve balance and posture, which reduces the risk of falls,” she said.

The chair yoga postures can be modified to accommodate those with differing abilities, while the warm water yoga classes in the hydrotherapy pool take the principles and movements of yoga and adapts them to the water environment. With the release of gravity, the body is able to find the optimum stretch.

This round of Stay On Your Feet® grants are part of the Build Your Balance campaign, which aims to improve older adults balance to reduce their risk of having a slip, trip or fall.  Activities that improve an older adult’s balance and posture, and strengthens muscles and bones, can also improve overall fitness and general wellbeing.

Injury Prevention Manager Rachel Meade said building your balance is one of the key ways for older adults to stay on their feet and help protect themselves from a fall.

“One in every ten bed days spent in hospital by a person aged 65 and older in 2010-11 was directly attributable to a fall,”

“We want people to know that falls are preventable, and that by, keeping a healthy mind through activities and social groups, building your balance along with strengthening your legs, removing trip hazards from your home, people can avoid falls and stay independent,”

“Other than the huge emotional and physical cost of a fall, which can be very painful and affect your independence, there is also a very significant financial cost to the WA community – falls cost about $2.2 billion per year in WA alone,”

Injury Matters coordinates Stay On Your Feet® which promotes how to keep active and alert through the Move Improve Remove campaigns and prevent slips, trips and falls.

Injury Matters aims to empower, influence and collaborate with the WA community to prevent injury and support recovery, because it believes all West Australians can live life uninterrupted by injury.

For more information visit www.stayonyourfeet.com.au or www.injurymatters.org.au.

For the chair yoga and warm water yoga class times contact the Murray Leisure Centre – visit www.murray.wa.gov.au or call 9531 7777.

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