I’d like you to meet my Mum Pat. Like many other older Australians, she’s still living in the family home and loving her independence. However, There have been some recent Incidents that have caused mum and the rest of the family to make some changes to keep her in the home she loves. As bright and as sprightly as mum looks, she has had a few falls over the last 18 months, which thankfully didn’t cause any major injury but left her bruised and a bit shaken now as a family that’s worried us and we’ve looked into ways of helping prevent those falls, and the more we’ve looked the more we’ve realised that Mum is no different to many older Australians in danger of falls. And the scary thing is what a bad fall can mean to a person’s independence. Judy Ross is an occupational therapist and involved in the wonderful not-for-profit organisation Active Ageing Australia, she’s also Pat’s daughter in-law. Falls are a really big problem for older people. In fact one person in every three of over 65 year olds will have a fall in any year. 10 times more people are admitted to a hospital after a fall than after a car accident. In Pat’s situation after we found out that she’d had a couple of falls we sat down and had a chat. That’s the first step when someone’s had a fall because they often don’t like to talk about it, and they don’t like their family to know about it because they fear that it could mean the first step towards them not being able to stay in their home. So in Pat’s case we found out when she was walking across a nature strip, she caught her toe on a pop-up sprinkler. So now she’s going to stick to nice even footpaths and driveways and just be a bit more careful about where she’s walking when she goes for her daily walk. Walking is a really excellent form of exercise but strength and balance exercises are actually probably more important when it comes to keeping someone independent and not falling. We had a chat about her doing some exercises, strengthening exercises and also balance exercises and she’s been fantastic. She’s done them every day. This is one of the most important exercises to help with your balance and also it just strengthens the muscles in your legs, and I do believe if you can do this well, you get the all-clear to stay in your own home. It doesn’t actually matter how old you are when it comes to improving your strength and balance. You can be any age. You can be in your 90s, and it doesn’t matter what your health is. You will get stronger and get better balance if you do the right exercises, do them regularly, and keep doing them. Thank you Kim. How are you feeling Mum? I’m feeling really fit actually. Yes, I think all those exercises are really doing me good. I just feel now that I’m walking much stronger and I do want to remain independent. We want you to remain independent too Mum. Thank you. If you’ve got a Mum, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or someone else do you think needs help with falls prevention, simply head to the Active Ageing Australia website – www.activeaging.org.au Now, coffee?