Live stronger for longer

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Dr Yih Harng Chong (left), Safe in the South co-ordinator Saniya Thompson, Fusion Fitness owner Bailey McCulloch and Radio Southland manager Darren Ludlow in the station sound booth last week.

IN a bid to reduce the risk of falls among Southland’s older residents and help them remain independent, Safe in the South has launched a new initiative in conjunction with the April Falls campaign.

April Falls is a nationwide campaign aimed at reducing falls and fractures in people aged 65 years and over and supporting them to “Live Stronger for Longer”.

Gill Hall, of ACC, said people over the age of 65 had a one-in-three chance of having a fall and for those over 80 it was one in two.

“Having a fall can be devastating and can often result in a broken bone, which is painful and can take a long time to heal – stopping over 65 years olds from doing the things they love.

“The good news is that many falls are preventable, and having good strength and balance is key to staying on your feet.”

With support from Radio Southland and WellSouth Primary Health Network, Safe in the South has developed a series of five 15-minute podcasts to promote falls prevention, targeting people over the age of 65 and those who care for them.

A podcast is a digital audio or video file which a user can download and listen to.

Subjects covered included the benefits of exercise, home safety and medical factors which contribute to falls.

Safe in the South co-ordinator Saniya Thompson said the initiative was developed to help reduce Southland’s falls statistics among its older residents.

In 2016, falls were the leading accident statistic in Invercargill, with 280 hospital discharges.

The podcasts were not designed to frighten people, but rather to provide a positive message to prevent and reduce harm from falls, she said.

“We want people to stay independent for as long as possible.”

Bailey McCulloch, owner of Invercargill’s Fusion Fitness, produced a podcast focused on the role exercise played in preventing falls.

“The podcast is a good way to educate people about the importance of exercise and that anyone can do it,” she said.

Southland geriatrician Dr Yih Harng Chong produced two podcasts for the series, the first explaining that falls were not a normal part of healthy ageing and how medications could contribute to falls, and the second around modifying the risk factors associated in falls such as nutrition, alcohol, vision and incontinence.

WellSouth had produced a podcast about home safety.

WellSouth falls and fracture prevention co-ordinator Laura Hogue said the number of falls reported were increasing, due in part to more people living longer and living longer with conditions.

“If people fall, they tend to lose their independence, which is terrible and devastating.”

The podcast series is available on the Radio Southland website, Safe in the South Facebook page and will be available on CD at the Citizens Advice Bureau from next week.

For information about falls prevention exercise classes in Southland, go to www.livestronger.org.nz

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