Researchers and people from multicultural communities are working together to support older people to exercise and reduce the risk of falls.

Some of the members of the MOVE Together: Reduce Falls research team, Professor Cathy Said (left), Rosa Cursio-Barcham, consumer representative (middle), Dr Emily Ramage (right). Photo courtesy of Western Health.

Falls are a major problem for older adults with one in three likely to fall every year. Falls can lead to serious injuries, and are the leading cause of injury, hospital admission and death in older adults in Australia.

Professor Cathy Said from the University of Melbourne and Western Health is leading the MOVE Together: Reduce Falls program to support older people from migrant and refugee communities to exercise more and reduce their risk of falls.

ECCV is collaborating with Professor Said on the project alongside a team of clinicians and researchers, as well as representatives from multicultural organisations and older people from the Italian, Chinese and Arabic-speaking communities.

“Falls are a personal story,” Professor Said says. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by a fall.”

The good news is that exercise can not only improve your health, but also reduce your risk of falls. Research shows that three hours of exercise a week, including exercises aimed at improving balance and muscle strength, can reduce the risk by up to 42%.

However, at least two-thirds of older adults from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are not doing enough exercise to minimise their risk of having a fall. The MOVE Together project aims to
change this.

“Australia is a multicultural country,” Professor Said says. “We need to recognise the needs of older people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, so they can be supported to exercise in a way that is meaningful and helps them to stay independent and reduce their likelihood of falling.”

ECCV has played a key role in connecting Professor Said and her team with multicultural seniors groups. People were invited to participate in workshops, where they shared their ideas about how best to support older people to start exercising and
keep exercising.

The valuable information shared in these workshops has informed all aspects of the program, including the development of resources such as videos. Leaders of the seniors groups have played a critical role in the project’s success, and some have even joined the research team as consumer
representatives.

ECCV’s Ageing Well Lead Hayat Doughan believes the workshops have been a success.

“The workshops have been a wonderful avenue for older adults to learn about falls prevention and what can be done about it,” she says. The research team are now planning to evaluate the program in a research trial.

For more information about the MOVE Together: Reduce Falls program, click here or contact Hannah Sharma on 0478 489 315 or at move-together@unimelb.edu.au.

This article was published in the
Winter 2024
edition of Golden Years.