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Byron Shire
April 17, 2024

Helping our elders on April Falls Day

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Janelle Saffin MP and Rotarian Bob Barnes with some handy gadgets to help you stay upright. Photo supplied.

April Falls Month is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of falls and to promote the latest best practice fall prevention strategies. The overall campaign goal is to get active and improve balance for fall prevention.

A fall can have terrible consequences for an elderly person, their family and the community and falls are the leading cause of injury in older Australians and one in five falls requires hospitalisation. There are 1.3 million falls by people aged 65 and over in Australia every year, most of them occur at home and sadly, people over 65 make up 95 per cent of fall deaths.  

The likelihood of living alone increases with age and Over 50 per cent of those aged over 85 live alone. Falls can happen to anyone at any location, but falls requiring hospitalisation are more common in older people and are most likely to occur in the home.

April Falls Day in Ballina and Lismore

The Rotary Clubs of Lismore West and Ballina Satellite are running an ‘April Falls Day’ information campaign to promote falls prevention within the home for older people.

Rotary will have an information table with tips and display products, supported by the health promotion team from Northern NSW Local Health District, at Bunnings in Ballina on Saturday and at Bunnings in Lismore from Friday to Sunday

Rotary is inviting the public to get along to learn about falls prevention for themselves, their family and their neighbour. Doing so could be a very valuable investment.

Falls are the most common reason for premature admission into an aged care facility and are the main cause of injury-related hospitalisation and mortality in older people.

Crazy, unnecessary and often preventable

Rotarian Bob Barnes of Lismore says this is crazy, unnecessary and often preventable. ‘We all know someone who has had a fall and it can be awful for them, with a domino effect on their family and the community – so we want to get a proactive, preventative message out to the community to do something about preventing falls.

‘Most of the things you can do to help prevent falls are common sense – but you’ve got to do them! 

‘Remove clutter and trip hazards, get a hand rail, and very importantly, do some balance and strength exercises.

‘One easy thing you can also do is get a night light. They provide a soft glow and either come on automatically when it’s dark (dusk to dawn) or illuminate when movement is detected. You can put one in your bathroom and hallway to help at night – I have a few and they’re great. They cost between $6 and $26 and about 2 cents a night to run, and some as low as 5 cents per month. That’s the price of one cup of coffee a year for a safety light in your home. Would you rather do a few exercises and get a cheap light or, have an expensive hospital bed and an early trip to an aged care facility?’

Stark health consequences

Apart from the obvious social and economic costs of a fall, the stark health consequences are very real. A fall is scary for older people, indeed falling is one of older people’s biggest fears. If an elderly person has had a fall, they are also more likely to fall again and it can lead to a fear of falling, restrictions in activity and social isolation… diminishing life and ultimately costing everyone, in more ways than one.

‘This is for 100 per cent for the community – it’s not a money making activity,’ said Bob. ’It is a public education service to the community.

‘With cooperation from health agencies, it would be great if falls prevention can get into the national consciousness as much as road safety and obesity.

‘We hate to see our friends and fellow Aussies suffer – it doesn’t have to be this way and it important we all do something about falls prevention. 

‘See you at Bunnings on the weekend!’

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  1. A very commendable campaign.
    Good on you Janelle, Rotary and Bunnings!
    Falls are a serious health factor when growing older.


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