I urge elderly members of the community and your family members to find out how you can prevent the risk of a fall in the lead up to this year’s April Falls Day, after more than ninety-five thousand people in NSW had a fall last year serious enough to require an ambulance.

Ninety thousand people in NSW were admitted to hospital for treatment of their fall-related injuries, which can include concussion, spinal damage, broken limbs, and head and facial injuries. This year’s April Falls Day – 3rd April 2017 – is a state-wide initiative aimed at reducing the number of falls. The month of April is Falls Month, when best practice is promoted as part of the effort for falls prevention among health and residential aged care service providers and across the community.

April Falls Day and April Falls Month are a key initiative of the Clinical Excellence Commission, a division of NSW Health. Falls prevention is one of the key priorities of the CEC’s NSW Patient Safety Program, and the 2017 theme, Moving right to stay upright, is designed to encourage awareness and promotion of safe mobilisation, particularly for older people.

A common cause for falls is the loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia), which can sometimes occur with age, and in turn affects balance, gait and overall ability to move around safely. Other causes of falls in the elderly are side effects of medication, and confusion or dementia that can both have an effect on balance.

Another cause can be postural hypotension, when a person stands up after sitting or lying down, and he or she experiences a sudden drop in blood pressure, in turn causing that person to feel dizzy or light-headed. Awareness of these triggers can help in preventing a fall.

A summary of state-wide initiatives is compiled in a NSW Falls Prevention Network April Falls Newsletter, available at www.fallsnetwork.neura.edu.au/news/.

The Staying Active and On Your Feet booklet, the Stepping On program, and the web resource Active and Healthy (www.activeandhealth.nsw) will be promoted by the Clinical Excellence Commission and Local Health Districts during April Falls Month.