Live Stronger for Longer theme of April Falls campaign
3rd April 2018
Live Stronger for Longer is the theme of this year’s ‘April Falls’ campaign. The annual campaign raises awareness of the harm caused by falls, and what can be done to prevent them.
April Falls month is promoted each year by a growing number of health care providers around the country, including district health boards, aged residential care providers, and community care providers.
Clinical lead for the Commission’s reducing harm from falls programme, Sandy Blake, says falls can have a major impact on your life, whether they happen at home, in the community or in hospital.
‘Not every fall results in an injury, but those that do can cause broken bones, which can be painful and take a long time to heal.
‘In 2016, 216,000 people over 50 made a claim to ACC for an injury related to a fall, and nearly 27,000 attended hospital because of a fall – these are big numbers, and represent pain, immobility and inconvenience for a large number of people.
Data is from the Commission’s falls-related Atlas of Healthcare Variation – a website that uses maps, graphs, tables and words to show differences in health care in New Zealand by district health board. The updated falls Atlas domain was released today.
Live Stronger for Longer
The Live Stronger for Longer movement is gaining strength in communities throughout New Zealand. Developed by government agencies and health providers for people over 65, it aims to prevent falls and fractures, enabling people to stay well and independent in their own home.
‘A fall can be devastating for older people,’ says Sandy Blake. ‘It can make them fearful of falling again, which stops them doing the things they used to do. This can lead to social isolation and even depression.’
She says every year, one-in-three people over 65 will fall. For people aged 80 and over, the risk increases to one in two.
‘Only half of those over 80 who survive a hip fracture will walk unaided again, many will not regain their former degree of mobility, and this can result in admission to aged residential care earlier than would otherwise be expected.
‘People are often unaware of the link between a broken bone and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone strength and density. Over time bones become fragile and will break more easily.’
She says the good news is it’s never too late to build up bones and keep them strong and healthy.
‘The Live Stronger for Longer website offers practical information and advice on how to live an active, independent life and encourages people over 65 to join community group strength and balance classes.
‘Exercise classes can help prevent falls and give older people the chance to have some fun and meet new people, or see if in-home support is appropriate.
‘If you know of anyone who has had a fall, or has limited their activities because of a fall, encourage them to join a class in their community!’
Falls prevention in hospital shows benefits as broken hips reduced
Between September 2014 and the end of September 2017, there have been 107 fewer in-hospital falls resulting in fractured hips compared to historic trends.
Sandy Blake says these results are important and should be celebrated because hip fracture is the most common serious fall-related injury in those over 80 years old.
 Sandy Blake is also director of nursing patient safety and quality at Whanganui DHB.
For further information
To help reduce falls, ACC and the Commission have simple resources aimed at understanding a person’s risk of falling (Ask assess act) and identifying and removing falls hazards in the home (home safety checklist). Other resources are available on the Commission’s website and ACC’s website.