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April Falls Day 2021

Octogenarian Nina Dus now stepping on with confidence.

Older woman at the top of an outdoor staircase
SydneyConnect Image: Nina Dus

Nina Dus is back on her feet.

"I have learned how to walk safely and correctly. Such simple things that I never knew. It has been wonderful," the 80-year-old said.

Earlier this year, Nina joined a falls prevention program for seniors called Stepping On at Balmain Hospital, after she had a fall while rushing to cross a road at Camperdown.

Offered across Sydney Local Health District, the internationally recognised program is designed to build older people's knowledge, strength and confidence to prevent falls and to empower seniors to remain active and independent.

Today is April Falls Day – an annual campaign dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of falls and to promote fall prevention strategies.

This year's theme is Safe Activity For Everybody.

"The Stepping On program is one of the ways we're working to help people aged over 65 who live in our District to reduce the risk of falls, assisting them to stay physically active, improve their balance and to maximise their independence," Stephen Gammack, the District's Active Ageing Officer, said.

Data shows the Stepping On program reduces falls by 31 per cent in the community.

During the free, seven-week program, participants learn simple exercises to improve their strength and balance.

"I learned by doing the exercises that it was easier to lift my feet which makes me less likely to trip over. I do the exercises every day. This has been the best thing I have done," Nina said.

The program includes interactive presentations from occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, and pharmacists about reducing hazards in the home, safe footwear, vision, nutrition and medication management.

"Along with doing the exercises, following the valuable advice of the expert presenters is key to reducing the risks of having a fall," Mr Gammack said.

"The program helps to improve participants' health and wellbeing, and is also an opportunity for them to make new friends. We support participants to improve their balance and fitness so they remain able to keep doing the things they love," he said.

The program's participants attend a weekly two-hour group session and a refresher session in the months after the program ends.

It's part of NSW Health's "Active and Healthy" strategy.

The Stepping On program is open to people 65 years and older who are living at home, able to walk independently with or without a walking stick, and who have had a fall or are concerned about their balance.

For more information about the Stepping On program in Sydney Local Health District, please contact the Active Ageing Team on 9515 9063.