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Posted 8 Sep 2015 in Falls

Each year approximately one in three New Zealanders aged 65 and over will have a fall which causes an injury. While a small number of falls happen in hospitals, the vast majority occur in the community – many in or around the home.

Last year, 18,000 older people had a fall which caused a stay in hospital. We know these stays are time-consuming and costly, but more than that, they can have a huge impact on the person themselves.

Falls can cause older people to lose confidence, stopping them carrying out certain activities. This can actually increase the risk of a fall as inactivity can affect someone’s fitness level – and having good strength and balance can prevent falls. An older person who has fallen can withdraw and stop doing outdoor activities.

Nelson couple Archie and Joyce are great examples of how strength and balance exercises can help prevent falls and enable older people to keep their independence.


Ninety-two year old Archie and 86-year-old Joyce have been going to exercise classes for five years following a recommendation by their doctor and haven’t had a single fall in that time, something they attribute to keeping fit and active.

“In life you can’t just sit and do nothing – if you do you won’t get far. That’s the same with keeping strength as you age,” says Archie.

“The most important part of life is to enjoy what you’re doing and being able to be independent and not worried about falling helps a lot.”

Joyce says she enjoys the social aspects of the exercise groups as well.

“The people are all very friendly and they always talk to you. You aren’t isolated. We have a lovely time,” she says.

Joyce says the extra confidence she has gained from the exercise is wonderful.

“It’s kept us going all those years. It’s easy to give in and say ‘I won’t do it today’ but it gives you a purpose, and when you feel like that you will enjoy it more if you do go.”

As part of its Open for better care patient safety campaign, the Health Quality & Safety Commission, in association with bpacnz, has developed a falls prevention toolkit Stay Independent Falls Prevention Toolkit for Clinicians, to help clinicians work with patients to prevent falls.

You can access the resource here.

To find out more about Nelson Bays Primary Health falls prevention click here.