By 2040 the number Australians over 65 will have grown to more than six million, with up to 200,000 expected to be hospitalised because of a fall each year. This April Falls Day older Australians are being encouraged to get active, to help reduce the risk of a fall and maintain their strength and independence.
Better Balance for Fall Prevention is the theme of this years April Falls Day. The annual event to encourage older adults to become more active and reduce falls is recognised on April 1 and supported by the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network and the Council On The Ageing NSW (COTA NSW).
NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network Lead Advisor, Professor Cathie Sherrington said that the COVID-19 pandemic changed routines, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle for many older adults.
New habits are needed to be safe in the community while also being physically and socially active, Professor Sherrington said.
There are real benefits of becoming more active and it is important for older Australians to find the right balance and establish their own needs for social connection and physical activity.
Being physically active is the single most important thing people can do to stay independent as they age. During ageing, our bodies lose muscle strength and coordination, so the more active we remain, the better chance we have of maintaining our physical function.
Improving strength and balance allows us to complete regular daily activities more easily, including getting up and down stairs, in and out of cars, negotiating uneven surfaces and reducing the risk of falling.
Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA and President of the Australian & New Zealand Falls Prevention Society Professor Kim Delbaere said: Older people benefit from regular tai chi, group exercise programs, gym sessions, community-based falls prevention programs such as Stepping On, or simple exercises at home to improve muscle strength and balance.
Research has also shown that regular exercise can reduce falls in older people by 23 per cent, but slowly building up high-challenge balance exercises can increase the effects of exercise by up to 40 per cent.
The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) has collaborated with the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network to produce a range of April Falls resources for patients, families, carers and health staff and fall prevention information is available on the CEC website. To find a local exercise group that includes balance and strength exercises, visit the NSW Active and Healthy website: https://www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au/