Innovative new program aims to help older Aussies retain their independence by reducing falls risk

Jun 22, 2023
As we age, our risk of falls increases significantly. Falls can lead to serious injuries, including hip fractures, head injuries, and even death. Source: Getty Images.

A groundbreaking program aims to enhance the independence of older Australians by reducing the risk of falls, and in turn, preventing hospital admissions.

The NSW Minister for Health Ryan Park launched the Strength Training, Rehabilitation and Outreach Needs in Geriatric Medicine program, or STRONG on Wednesday, June 22.

Concord Hospital introduced the dedicated service designed to assist older individuals dealing with frailty or chronic illnesses in building strength and maintaining their overall health.

The recently established Centre for STRONG Medicine Concord provides comprehensive support to older adults, enabling them to optimize their physical function and mental well-being, thereby leading healthier and more active lives.

While announcing the new program, Park said “the Centre for STRONG Medicine is a wonderful service that is delivering positive outcomes for patients suffering from frailty and chronic disease, helping them to remain active members of the community.”

“This tried and tested program helps individuals to maintain their independence, reduce their risk of falls, and avoid hospitalisation,” Park said.

“This centre draws from the success of a similar program at Balmain Hospital which has operated since 1999 with extremely positive results.

“This is yet another in a suite of innovative initiatives we are rolling out to improve access to appropriate and preventative care, and reduce unnecessary presentations to our emergency departments.”

As we age, our risk of falls increases significantly. Falls can lead to serious injuries, including hip fractures, head injuries, and even death.

Nearly 1 in 3 older Australians have experienced a fall in the past 12 months, with 1 in 5 required hospitalisations. And although not all falls result in injury, the incident can often result in a person losing confidence in their own abilities and withdrawing from life to avoid the risk of suffering a fall again.

While falls can happen anywhere, they are particularly dangerous at home, where most people spend the majority of their time.

In addition to programs such as STRONG, there are fortunately measures that can be taken to age-proof the home and reduce the risk of falls.  Some of which include:

  • Assessing the home for fall hazards

The first step in age-proofing the home is to assess it for fall hazards. This involves identifying areas of the home that could potentially cause a fall. For example, tripping hazards such as loose rugs or uneven flooring should be addressed.

  • Preventing falls through home modifications

After assessing the home for fall hazards, the next step is to make any necessary modifications to prevent falls. Modifying the home is an important consideration for seniors who wish to age in place and maintain their independence.

Some modifications that can be made to the home to minimise the risk of falls include installing grab bars and handrails in strategic locations, such as in the bathroom and on stairs, improving lighting throughout the home, and ensuring that all floors are slip-resistant.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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