Only Child on falls – causes and prevention

Only child and Mom balanced precariously. Not the way to prevent falls.

Yesterday I fell when walking down the steps outside a mall. Only the last two steps, and thanks to the extra padding of winter clothes, nothing was twisted, broken or even strained. But I went down cursing and swearing that this should not have happened. I know why it did. Thanks to wearing bifocals, there is a gap between the reading and distance part of my glasses that just doesn’t do depth perception well.

I suppose I could have followed in my late mother’s footsteps (literally) when at age 55 she fell while tearing up the basement stairs. She was in a hurry to get from the rec room to the phone in the dining room. Why was she running? Trying to be first to call for a TV contest. (The TV was in the rec room). Within a few weeks we had an extension phone in the rec room.

Mom wasn’t hurt – this time. A later fall at age 63 would lead to a brain aneurysm and her death. Some of my previous falls have occurred in the home – again on stairs (padded with carpet), or climbing up on a chair to get a dish from a high shelf. And outside in snowy, icy or slushy weather. One year I fell in the slush while crossing a busy street. I phoned a complaint to my city councillor. A few weeks later when the same mishap on another busy street happened to a younger woman, I gave her my hand and helped her up.

Help, especially with yourself, could be a key word for preventing falls this winter, particularly for us older folks. I don’t mean letting someone lead you by the hand wherever you go, but taking precautions. Don’t have time for them? Too busy. Consider a few falling-down statistics.

As you age so does your risk for falls.

Two thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months

Most falls occur in the home. (Source for these three facts: Colorado State University Extension http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/10242.html

The latter may be a 50-50 risk factor for me, but it’s enough to make you check for roaming rugs and to hang onto the railing of stairs and perhaps look down. I was hanging on to the railing yesterday but perhaps not looking down.

According to Colorado State  University Extension, some other risk factors for falls are:

Osteoporosis, lack of physical activity, impaired vision (I’d add glasses design to this one), medications, and environmental factors. The latter includes objects on the floors, unsturdy furniture and poor lighting. Outside it could be sidewalk cracks and ice.

So what can you do to prevent falls? Get your vision checked often and clean your glasses. Get brighter lighting – something those squiggly-shaped environmental light bulbs don’t do – they provide glare instead. Exercise – walk and/or swim. Keep your walk areas clear of snow and ice (and hope your municipal government does the same for the roads and sidewalks; if not, complain, even to the point of calling up your local TV station with a consumer news flash). Know the main side effects of your medications, especially if you take more than one type. Ditch outdated medications. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about this. More causes and preventions are on the Colorado State University Extension Website http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/10242.html.

“Fall on your knees” may work in the Christmas carol Oh Holy Night but is not good in your life. At least most churches have padded kneelers and the back of a seat in front to hang onto.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Elderly parents, Health Seniors, lower your risk, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Sharon Crawford, winter falls

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