Older people will be taught how to protect themselves and minimise injuries in the event of a fall, under a new programme called Rolling Good Times by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Designed for people aged 50 and above, the scheme has two parts - an obstacle course and group exercises to build muscle strength, balance and flexibility; and the teaching of basic rolling techniques to minimise the risk of injuries and fractures in case of a fall.
The programme, which will be piloted in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was announced yesterday by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is an MP for the GRC.
The Ministry of Health, the Singapore Physiotherapy Association and the People's Association are also involved in the programme.
Falls tend to lead to fractures and immobility for the elderly, which can result in severe deterioration of health and poor quality of life.
Dr Ng noted that by 2030, nearly one million Singaporeans will be above 65 years of age. This is one in every four Singaporeans.
He said it is not easy to learn how to fall. "You have to actually work against your instincts and understand why you're doing it."
At Toa Payoh Central, volunteers from the Singapore Physiotherapy Association showed residents how to fall on the fleshier parts of their bodies - such as the buttocks - and to tuck in their chins to prevent their heads from hitting the ground.
Residents were also told to get into a ball-like position and to avoid falling on the "bonier parts" of the body such as the hips.
Yesterday, Dr Ng also launched the Programme for Active Living (PAL), which aims to encourage 120,000 residents in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC to develop a lifestyle of regular exercise. They can collect points by taking part in grassroots-organised activities such as zumba or health screenings in the GRC.
The PAL challenge is paired with the HPB's Healthy 365 app which tracks the activities and number of steps taken by participants.
In its push to get residents to be more active, the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council started in 2013 to build elderly fitness stations. To date, there are 114 such stations across the GRC.
Toa Payoh resident Lin Siew Hong, 78, a retiree who signed up for the PAL programme, said she exercises thrice a week. She said: "Everyone should exercise. It keeps sicknesses at bay. I'm healthier because of it."
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.