Don't be an old fall guy or doll

TAKING a nasty fall can mean more than just cuts and bruises for many elderly people and now a special program is set to help.

‘Stepping On’, a program considered to be one of the most effective Falls Prevention programs in NSW, will be offered to the Bellingen, Dorrigo and Urunga communities this year.

Falls are a major cause of injury and death for older people with incidents in NSW alone leading to approximately 30,000 hospitalisations and at least 300 deaths in people aged 65 years and over.

Bellingen resident Bev Watson said participating in a recent Stepping On workshop was highly beneficial.

“I feel so much more confident, stable and balanced when I walk around,” she said.

“Going to the Stepping On program has made a big difference to my life. I am more aware of keeping myself safe and how to prevent myself falling. I got to meet new people, it was fun, and now I am a lot stronger and more confident to go out in the community, I highly recommend this program to anyone,” Mrs Watson said.

The program covers a range of topics, including vision, medicines and practical exercises to improve strength and balance. The group-based sessions run for two hours a week for seven weeks, followed by a refresher session three months later.

Mary Clare Maloney, North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) falls prevention co-ordinator, said the seven-week program is designed for people who are living at home and who have fallen or are fearful of falling.

“Participants must be able to walk by themselves or with a walking stick. The program includes regular group sessions facilitated by local specialist health professionals and invited guest speakers,” Ms Maloney said.

The program will begin in Bellingen next Wednesday, in Dorrigo next month, and in Urunga in October.

The first session will be held from 10am to noon at Bellingen Golf Club. People who are 65 years and over are urged to secure a place to benefit from this program by contacting Jennifer Doust Occupational Therapy Department Bellingen Hospital 6659 5835.

For more information on Stepping On groups in your town, please contact NCAHS Stepping On co-ordinator, Fiona Greenlaw on 0408 665 282.

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