Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Ms Joan Pereira
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC
Question No. 3548
To ask the Minister for Health whether the Ministry can guide the elderly through public education on how to spot signs and symptoms of an impending dizzy spell so that they can prevent a fall and causing injury to themselves.
1 Seniors fall due to many reasons such as giddiness and loss of muscle strength. The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) have been working with community partners and healthcare clusters to raise awareness on falls prevention through public education, exercise programmes and campaigns. Let me cite a few examples.
2 Under the National Seniors’ Health Programme, regular health talks and workshops are conducted at various community touchpoints to educate seniors on falls prevention. Over 6,000 seniors have attended these health talks across the past year, acquiring tips such as removing clutter in the home to pre-empt the risks of falls. Seniors on long-term medication for several medical conditions are also advised to consult a doctor for a medication review at least once a year, as a possible side effect of taking multiple medications concurrently includes dizziness.
3 Seniors are encouraged to exercise regularly, and to do strength, balance and flexibility exercises at least twice a week. This helps to delay age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, which reduces the risk for falls. The HPB holds weekly senior exercise classes in more than 600 community spaces island-wide and more than 50,000 seniors attended these classes in 2019.
4 The HPB also piloted ‘Rolling Good Times’ in 2018, a programme to raise awareness of common falls situations, improve seniors’ strength and balance through exercises, and teach them how to minimise the risk of injuries during a fall. To date, some 160 seniors have participated in the pilot programme, and most have shown improvement in their strength, balance and flexibility. Hence, HPB intends to reach out to more seniors by progressively rolling out the programme to more community nodes nationwide.
5 Targeting pre-frail and frail seniors, the Healthy Ageing Promotion Programme For You (HAPPY) programme implemented by the National University Health System engages seniors in exercises combined with cognitive activities. Such dual-task exercises have been shown to stimulate cognitive functions and improve physical ability, preventing dementia and frailty as well as reducing one’s risk for falls. More than 700 seniors have participated in HAPPY as of January 2020.
6 Although senior-centric activities have been temporarily suspended since March 2020 due to COVID-19, many organisations have since adapted most of their activities and classes to online content so that our seniors can continue to stay active and engaged while at home.
7 Lastly, HPB had organised Falls Prevention Awareness campaigns in 2016 and 2017 to provide seniors and their caregivers with information on how to reduce the risk of falls. As part of the campaigns, educational videos and guidebooks were produced for seniors and their caregivers. These resources remain available online.
8 MOH and the healthcare family will continue to strengthen our efforts to reduce the risk for falls among our senior population.