Steady As You Go classes remain a 'hit' with the older population


3 April 2018

Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Age Concern Wanganui will celebrate April Falls Month with a call for people aged 65-plus to enrol in Steady As You Go classes.

Age Concern Steady As You Go coordinator Janet Lewis, says Age Concern Wanganui is delighted with the level of interest older people are showing in the Steady As You Go strength and balance programme.

While most participants are in their 80s, the class has had members aged 100 and even older.

The focus of the once-a-week, hour-long class is strength and balance with stretching, sitting and standing exercises, weights on ankles, and eye exercises to improve people’s peripheral vision. Having the opportunity to socialise and form friendships is an added bonus.

Age Concern Otago rolled out Steady As You Go classes in 2003 and since then, hundreds of participants have enrolled nationwide.

Aware of how effective it’s been in helping to reduce falls among the elderly, ACC contracted Age Concern New Zealand a couple of years ago to pilot Steady As You Go in Whanganui and Tauranga where it created a lot of interest in both cities.

Whanganui District Health Board director of nursing and Health Quality and Safety Commission clinical lead for the Reducing Harm From Falls programme Sandy Blake says she shares Age Concern Otago’s view that ‘Falls ARE preventable’ and ‘Falls are NOT a natural part of ageing’.

“Anything we can do to encourage our older members of the community to keep up their strength and maintain their balance is worth celebrating,” Mrs Blake says. “A fall is often devastating for an older person and their family/whānau. Many never mobilise the same as they did before the fall.

“Age Concern manager Tracy Lynn and I view the Steady As You Go programme as the fence at the top of the cliff – a programme we know is enabling some participants to improve their general wellbeing and confidence. With the support of their health provider, some are now able to mobilise safely without walking aids.”