Boccia tournament to be held as part of Falls Awareness Week

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Milton Keynes Community Health Services (MKCHS) and Milton Keynes Council Sports Development will be holding a Boccia tournament on Wednesday as part of Age UK’s Falls Awareness Week 2012.

Representatives from the falls service will be at Bletchley library tomorrow to answer questions and meet people; information will be available at the library throughout the week. Backing the Charity’s drive to boost the bone health of older people across the country, the events will show that there are many simple things that can reduce the risk of falls and fractures as we grow older.

The hip fracture rate in Milton Keynes is amongst the highest in the country. Between 2005 and 2009 there were 66 deaths caused by falls in people aged over 75 across the Borough. Because of this MKCHS is calling on older people to attend local activities during Falls Awareness Week to learn how to prevent falls and look after bone health all year round. Activities range from taking a walk and getting out in the sunshine for ten minutes to exercise such as Tai Chi.

Liz Adams, Falls Prevention Coordinator at MKCHS, said: “National Falls Awareness Week is an excellent way of spreading the word and encouraging older people to get their falls risk assessed by a local falls service and help them maintain their independence. The service promotes activity to increase strength and balance and if appropriate, offers a structured exercise and education programme for people referred to the service. The service works with other agencies to encourage people to join activities in Milton Keynes that encourage physical activity and socialisation and the events this year will hopefully encourage people to try something new and remain active.”

MKCHS will also be holding a Falls Awareness Week event at Bletchley Leisure Centre which will include boccia and displays on Wednesday from 1pm. Refreshments donated by Bletchley Community Hospital League of Friends; registration is essential – please contact Vicki Clark 01908 253229. People in later life and practitioners from across Milton Keynes are invited to join in to find out what they can do to help prevent falls.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, said: “As we get older our bone strength naturally deteriorates, which puts us at greater risk of serious injury if we do fall. People attending Falls Awareness Week events will be able to find out more about how to maintain bone health as well as discovering simple strength and balance exercises.

“Every step can make a difference – from simply walking up the stairs to getting active in a local exercise class. Events such as these in Milton Keynes held in support of Falls Awareness Week are a vital way to encourage people to understand more about preventing the risk of a fall and maintaining independence.”

During Falls Awareness Week, Age UK will be supporting events across the country highlighting how important maintaining healthy bones is, as well as the benefits of staying active in later life. For more information on how to get involved or host your own event, call 0800 169 87 87 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/fallsweek.

To download Age UK’s free ‘Staying Steady’ and ‘Healthy Eating’ guides call 0800 169 6565 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.

Age UK’s Five Ways to Maintain Bone Health:

Age UK has compiled a list of ways to boost bone health and help ensure your bones stay strong and healthy.

· Weight-bearing exercise is important to help keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Do plenty of brisk walking, tennis, aerobics classes and dancing to strengthen your bones. Activities that strengthen your muscles and help to improve co-ordination and balance are very effective in reducing the risk of falling. There are even strength and balance exercises you can do while sitting down and standing with the aid of a chair.

· Enjoy a balanced diet. Foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, baked beans, lentils and dried apricots are great sources of calcium. Vitamin D is essential for your body to absorb calcium so eat plenty of oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.

· Flash the flesh. Take a stroll in the summer sun; just 10-15mins each day around lunchtime between March and September is a great way of getting Vitamin D and keeping healthy. If going out in the sun for longer, always remember to use sunscreen with SPF of at least 15.

· Avoid smoking. Smokers have been shown to lose bone at a faster rate than non-smokers and so are at an increased risk of osteoporosis

· Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.