Join mable Join mable

Join Mable for FREE to view support workers profiles

  • Peace of mind

    Each independent support worker has been verified with both police checks and references.

  • Better value support

    Because we’re online, our costs are lower. We pass the savings onto you!

  • Freedom of choice

    Enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with having a direct relationship with your support team.

This April, get smart about avoiding falls

Doctor or nurse caregiver with older man wearing protective masks looking at photo album and picture at home

By Keryn Curtis, Community and Engagement specialist

April 2022 brings more than Easter and ANZAC Day observations and long weekends – it is also April Falls Month.

An initiative of the NSW Falls Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network, April Falls Month is an annual push toAn initiative of the NSW Falls Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network, April Falls Month is an annual push to raise awareness about the impact of falls among older people and to promote the latest best practice ways to avoid them. It comes at a good time with many of us busier than usual, out and about with family and friends or spending more time in the garden ahead of the winter months.

This year, the theme of April Falls Month is Better Balance for Fall Prevention and the message is that we all need to get active and improve our balance and strength to reduce our risk of falling and experiencing one of the many fall-related injuries, including breaking bones.

Why are falls a problem?

According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, falls are the number one contributor to hospitalised injuries in Australia and a leading cause of injury deaths. In 2018–19, 43 per cent of hospitalised injuries and 39 per cent of deaths from injury were due to falls.

Of course, falls can happen to anyone, anywhere, but falls requiring hospitalisation are much more common in older people and are most likely to happen at home.  

The increased risk of falls for older people is connected to a number of fairly common age-related changes including poorer eyesight and hearing, slowed reaction times, loss of muscle tone, stiff joints, cognitive changes, reduced sensation or numbness; not to mention poor diet and diseases that limit activity, strength and balance.

Around one-third of people aged 65 years and over fall one or more times a year. Not all falls result in injury, but many do, causing fractures of the hip, wrist and ribs; hip and shoulder dislocations; head injuries; bruising and sprains.  

What’s almost worse is that many older people become frightened of falling and that can lead people to lose confidence and restrict their activity even further.  It can become a vicious cycle. Being less active leads to loss of strength and fitness and that in turn increases the risk of future falls.  

How do you win?

Falls experts are unanimous: any kind of exercise is better than none for avoiding falls. The more active we remain, the better the chance of keeping our muscles strong, our joints mobile and flexible and maintaining our balance.

Some good options to investigate include home or group exercise programs, tai chi, dancing, yoga and pilates. Lawn bowls is great for balance and walking is always a good idea. Lots of local councils offer walking groups as well as gym programs, specially tailored for older people.

If you have already built a great support via Mable, you can enjoy the benefits of nature while getting a good physical workout.

Many physiotherapists recommend building balance exercises into ordinary daily activities — like doing Many physiotherapists recommend building balance exercises into ordinary daily activities — like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth while balancing on one leg! Through the Mable platform, you can find an independent support worker who could support you with some of these.

Other tips for avoiding falls involve checking your surroundings for trip and slip hazards. Keep your floor and garden pathways clear of stray items and make sure you have sufficient lighting. Do you have frayed mats or rugs that curl up at the end? Can you add a grab rail to your shower or a rubber non-slip mat?  Also consider your shoes and clothing. Ill-fitting footwear and slippery soles can be diabolical, as can loose pockets or cuffs that can catch on furniture or under your feet.

Make a checklist of these risks and can ask your support worker to help you around the house to make sure they are mitigated regularly.

You can avoid falls

Contrary to popular belief, falls are not inevitable and, for many older people, they can be largely avoided. If you’re not already falls-aware then April Falls Month is the time to start taking notice of the risk factors and making some changes.  

That might mean talking to your GP and seeing your physiotherapist, screening your home and physical environment and investigating some of the options available for getting or staying active in your local community.   

Look out for health services that offer falls and balance clinics and check out some of the booklets and other information resources on the NSW Falls Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network website. Ask your Mable support worker to help you, if you need, and get started on the road to becoming more active and improving balance for fall prevention.

back to top