Falls prevention awareness campaign
A guide has been developed to help seniors combat falls as incidence of falls rises with age.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has launched an inaugural Falls Prevention Awareness Campaign to provide seniors and their caregivers with five simple tips to reduce the risk of falls. The campaign, an initiative under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing, is the third in a series of campaigns under the National Seniors’ Health Programme. An inaugural initiative was launched in September last year with an exercise video for seniors titled “7 Easy Exercises to an Active Lifestyle”. In May this year, HPB dished out phase two of the National Seniors’ Health Programme, a nutrition campaign to help seniors understand the importance of a healthy diet and to eat healthily.
This time around, HPB is looking at falls. Falls are a common cause of injuries among older adults and can have serious implications on seniors’ health. Falls among the elderly often result in injuries such as hip fractures, which can lead to significant decline in mobility and functional independence. In the last three years, about 8,000 seniors (i.e. aged 65 and above) a year were admitted to hospitals due to falls, according to the Ministry of Health. In 2013, close to 60 percent of all trauma deaths were due to falls and about half of all trauma deaths were seniors aged 65 and above. The incidence of falls increases sharply with age and it is expected that the numbers will rise as our population ages.
As part of the Falls Prevention Awareness Campaign, HPB, in collaboration with Alexandra Health System, has developed a falls prevention guide for caregivers. The guide contains a simple falls risk checklist, information on the consequences of falling, tips on how to reduce a seniors’ risk of falls by making simple changes to daily activities and a home safety checklist to identify potential hazards.
To better cater to seniors, a simplified version of the guide focusing on five simple tips to prevent falls has also been developed. Simple instructions accompanied with pictures help seniors learn what they should do in the event of a fall and equip caregivers with knowledge on how they can assist a senior if they fall.
The five simple tips include:
(i) Exercising regularly to build and maintain lower body strength and balance,
(ii) Keeping bones strong by having a calcium-rich diet,
(iii) Going for regular eye checks,
(iv) Wearing well-fitting non-slip shoes, and
(v) Keeping the home safe and clutter-free.
“In order for seniors to grow older with confidence and to age successfully, they need to be healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Through the Falls Prevention Awareness Campaign, we want to reach out to seniors and their caregivers to let them understand that falls can be prevented through basic, practical ways. By making simple changes to lifestyle and the home environment, seniors can remain healthy, active and independent, and continue to have a good quality of life even as they age,” said Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor.
Following the launch of the campaign, there was a week-long roadshow in early July at different heartland locations to reach out to more seniors in the community. An educational video and a soft copy of the guide can also be viewed and downloaded from HPB’s Healthy Ageing website – www.HealthyAgeing.sg/FallsPrevention. Copies of the falls prevention guides will also be distributed from August 2016 through HPB’s partners, including community clubs/centres under the People’s Association, Guardian, Unity and Watsons retail pharmacies, polyclinics and restructured hospitals (Alexandra Health System, Eastern Health Alliance, National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth).
The National Seniors’ Health Programme is one of the key initiatives under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing. It aims to raise awareness among seniors to keep healthy, and encourage and empower seniors to take charge of their health so they can maintain their physical and mental well-being, and functional health.
(** PHOTO CREDITS: Health Promotion Board)