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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 have been 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 are all running programs with a focus on leg strength in older adults as part of the Strengthen Your Legs campaign.

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

Grants are now open for the next campaign, Check Your Medicines which will run from 1 February – 30 April 2019.  Applications close on Monday 5 November 2018.

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

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.

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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