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Live Stronger for Longer - April Falls awareness month

There is strong evidence* that actively participating in strength and balance exercises is effective at reducing falls in the elderly by up to 40 per cent. 

General practice is the single point of access for the Taranaki falls prevention service and has the tools to actively identify and assess their elderly enrolled population, manage their risk by addressing any identified contributing factors, and helping them to participate in strength and balance exercises. 

The outcome of this nurse-led assessment is either into the in-home service which forms part of the community multidisciplinary team or directing them into a range of growing classes in the community, supported by Sport Taranaki.

Evidence for community falls prevention*

  • Otago exercise programme delivered at home to people aged 80 years and over (75 and over if experienced a previous fall) result in a 32- 40 per cent decrease in falls.
  • Group exercise classes for people 75 years and over result in a 29 per cent decrease in falls.
  • Tai chi classes for more active older people result in a 41 per cent decrease in falls for the low risk group.

*Source: Cochrane Review 2012; strong evidence from 159 RCT's with almost 80,000 participants.

There are numerous groups that are able to identify the "at risk" faller and those that treat members of the community who have fallen. These include emergency departments, St John, Fracture Liaison Service, Allied health team, hospital and community nursing staff, district nurses, aged care supporters, geriatricians, community support workers, rest homes, and ACC case managers.

The reasons why the elderly fall is complex, and helping to identify any additional factors that may increase the risk of a fall is holistic and helpful. Participating in strength and balance exercises have strong evidence to decrease risk. By getting more elderly doing these exercises, whether in their home when they are more dependent, or within classes in their community, there would be less falls and fractures, improved recovery, decreased mortality and hospital bed stays.

National outcome domains based on research, indicating benefit to the older New Zealander and their whānau:

  • independent and well at home
  • fewer falls injuries
  • fewer serious harm falls and fracture
  • improved recovery - hospital and home
  • integrated falls and fracture care across the system.

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For more information about the falls prevention programme, contact Taranaki GP liaison and falls prevention service project lead Nadja Gottfert: 06 759 4364 or

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