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Welcome to Stay On Your Feet®. Information and resources to prevent falls and keep you active, because falls are preventable no matter what age you are.

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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, with your doctor, 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 gradual sleeping tablet reduction plan. 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.

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

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

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Government of Western Australia Department of Health Injury Matters