The jump over the candlestick worth $233 million: How ACC's app Nymbl is helping reduce the number of falls in older people

  • 15/05/2023
  • Sponsored by - ACC

Falls are the most common and costly cause of injury in people aged 65 and older.

That may not be alarming to many, but falls and fractures often result in a loss of independence and wellbeing. These types of claims cost ACC $233 million per year and without proper interventions this is forecast to increase to at least $460 million by 2035.

With the time lost in recovery, the potential downward slide of confidence and the sense of not being in control of something you take for granted, falls can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of older New Zealanders.

The importance of balance can help with basic and simple tasks such as navigating a trip to the toilet without falling, or when you're out playing bowls with friends, heading to a social event or visiting the whānau.  

To lower ACC claim numbers of falls in older people, there is a need for a shift in behaviour to see more older people taking part in regular strength and balance activities. A simple, free, evidence-based training app is helping thousands continue to keep living the life they want to live.

ACC's app Nymbl is a balance app that assists people in completing regular balance exercises, wherever they are and whenever they want. Since its launch on April 3, ACC has had over 10,000 older adults in New Zealand who have downloaded and are using the app.

For as little as 10 minutes a day you can dramatically decrease the chance of a fall so you can take control of your wellness by incorporating balance exercises into your lifestyle.

The app is specifically designed to cater for anyone over 50 to complete a few simple physical activities and have a little fun along the way by adding a few quiz questions into each session. Simple body exercises with Nymbl's fun brain games help keep you sharp, balanced and steady on your feet.

ACC Injury Prevention leader James Whittaker is hopeful the app provides another avenue of continued wellbeing.

"The reasons why people are injured through slips, trips and falls differ from person to person. There are some factors that can increase the risk of falls amongst older people though. As people age they can lose muscle mass, and their eyesight and hearing may also start to deteriorate," Whittaker said. 

"This can lead to reduced confidence and when people aren't as confident they may become less active. People can reduce their risk of falling by increasing their strength and improving their balance. The strength and balance classes provided through the ACC supported Live Stronger for Longer programme can help people a lot and boost their confidence."

The programme takes a systemic approach to reduce the rate of falls and fractures in our older population, to help keep them well and independent so they can live the life they want to live.

Whittaker said what makes Nymbl different from a class is its convenience. 

"A lot of older New Zealanders lead full, active lives and they'd enjoy being able to choose when and where they use Nymbl. Some people might not be able to make it to a strength and balance class and other people may prefer not to be surrounded by others while they're working on their balance." 

Think watching a quiz show on TV and doing some balance activities during the ad breaks - it's fun, easy and can be done from the comfort of your own home. The app tracks your activity and adapts as you go, becoming a personal training of the mind and the body. 

Getting the mind to concentrate while also navigating a daily task can have huge benefits. 

Nymbl helps with the concentration of balance while you go about the simple act of walking, therefore reducing the chance of a fall or accident. Its dual tasking feature, a combination of simple body movements and 'brain games' is scientifically-proven to improve balance faster than just physical forms of exercise alone.

Adrian is an 83-year-old resident at the Evelyn Page Retirement Village in Orewa, Auckland who said he has seen first hand the consequences of a fall.

"I've seen people retreat into themselves and not want to leave home."

Within a week, Adrian, who has been using Nymbl for 10 minutes a day, found it easy to navigate and said the ability to change levels of physical and mental challenges was helpful. He said the questions were challenging in a fun way and he looked forward to improving his performance.

There was no jumping over a candlestick but in a quick response Adrian summed up the newest addition to the live stronger longer toolbox.

"It was fun - I actually look forward to it," Adrian said.

Watch the video above to see Adrian's experience using Nymbl and what he thinks of the app. 

Keep living the life you love and download the app to your device from the Apple app store or Google Play store and begin taking part in the app-lead balance activity at no cost.

Article created in partnership with ACC.