Category Archives: Seniors and falls

Only Child says my health ate my life

Only Child's garden waiting for her attention

Only Child’s garden waiting for her attention

With apologies to a writing colleague for the twist on the title. Elizabeth Verwy’s book is a self-help book for workaholic entrepreneurs and is called My Business Ate My Life.

With me it’s my health that is interfering with the rest of my life. The health issues keep increasing, but when they are caused by someone else or something else, then I get very angry.

When I was a child back in the 1950s, like many children I fell a lot and scraped my knees. One such fall was a comedy of terrors. My friend Mare and I were chasing after a large rubber ball that went off into the air and landed on the road right by the sidewalk. As we arrived at the side of the road we both grabbed for the ball at the same time and we both fell with Mare landing on top of me. I don’t know about scraped knees – this time I got a deep wound in my head. But Mom took care of me.

Fast forward to last Thursday evening when I was touring the garden of a member of my garden club. No, I didn’t trip in the garden – it was on the way going off the property. I was following the concrete walkway from her house to the sidewalk, got near the sidewalk, stepped out and went flying head first, crashing on my knees. I let out a horrible scream and other gardeners (including the homeowner) came running to help. I was given gauze and baby wipes to clean it somewhat and a couple drove me home (a 10-minute walk) where I thoroughly cleaned the wound, put two kinds of disinfectant – Tea Tree Oil and Hydrogen Peroxide on it, then Polysporin. Then I covered it with the gauze and bandaids to supposedly hold the gauze in place. I hobbled to the drug store for more gauze and bandaids.

This is  an accident that should never have happened. Unknown to me beforehand (I had never been to this place before and when I arrived I walked onto the property from the lawn – well it was a garden tour), there was a steep step at the end of this property walkway. After the fall one of the other gardeners (not the homeowner) pointed out this very steep step. It is twice the size of a curb “step” and there is a big space between it and the only other step. This other step is very tiny. And no railing on either side.

In other words unless you are familiar with the property you wouldn’t know of this accident hazard.

Since then I’ve wasted time, energy and money to wash, disinfect, pile on an anti-bacterial cream  and  re-bandage the deep cut twice daily. And worry, worry if it was getting infected. It appeared maybe on the weekend. The medical walk-in clinic near me I go to is closed Sundays during the summer so I didn’t get there until yesterday. The doctor said it wasn’t infected. Apparently the liquid coming out is something natural that sometimes happens with scrapes and cuts. But he gave me more instructions (and gauze) to take care of it including signs of infection.

I still have the worry until it is better. And this homeowner isn’t getting off scott-free for her negligence. I’m not the only senior who was there that evening or who probably would visit her place. And it is not just seniors who could trip and fall.

So, I’ve decided as long as the cut doesn’t become infected, I won’t sic the city by-law officers on her. But I will give her a strong talk about her homeowner responsibility here –  she really should do something to rectify the situation – at least get railings in so people will know there is a step there. The health experts keep saying we seniors should hang onto the railing when going up and down steps. And I do – when there is a railing.

And just to make this ironic. In the plaza where the medical centre I go to is, there is now a medical supplies store. The steps outside this supplies store are those not close together and they are much smaller than where I fell. But, there is no railing on either side of the steps.

Now, excuse me, while I attend to more of my health issues. I take supplements and put the eyedrops in my eyes when I get to it. That seems to be my motto. And I still have the damn bandage change to do this morning.

My health issues are eating my life. No wonder I’m behind in spending time with family and friends, my writing and my gardening.

I’m too damn busy dealing with health issues.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Only child, Responsibility, Seniors and falls

Only Child on Seniors and Falls

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

My late mother had a few scary falls as she neared senior’s age and the short time after when she was still alive. I remember her falling going up the basement stairs. She was watching a TV show and they were offering a prize. You had to phone in right away to win. So Mom charged up the stairs.

Shortly after she had a phone extension put in downstairs.

But the really bad falls came after she got arthritis, particularly the last year of her life. She fell on the three steps at the entrance to her sister’s farmhouse. This was a new house, not some rambling old structure. The killing fall came a few months before her death. I was out with friends and when I came home she told me she had fallen off the vanity bench in her bedroom and banged her head.

Flash forward almost four months. One Saturday morning I got up – not early – and found no coffee on and Mom not even up. She was still in her bed and as we later learned in a coma. I called the family doctor who rushed over. He figured she’d had a stroke and called an ambulance. By that time my fiance had arrived and the two of us rode in the ambulance with Mom. The doctor followed.

Mom had a brain aneurysm so the doctors operated on her brain. She never came out of the coma and died five days later.

The official cause of death was brain aneurysm, but I know her falls from arthritis killed her.

Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees with my falls assessment. According to them, 2.5 million get treated in hospital emergency because they fell. Hip fractures aren’t just from old arthritic bones but 95 per cent of the time it’s a fall that causes the hip fracture.

Scary stuff. And I’m well on the way in the falling down department – even going back to soon after I moved back to Toronto. It seemed that every winter I fell outside – in slush, on ice. And I was in my early 50s then. Of course I complained to the city, to the Mayor, about the city workers not doing their job cleaning the streets and sidewalks property (one was at a major intersection).

Now, I’m falling in the summer. Tripping over paper hanging wire left by some careless jerk on the sidewalk. Even tripping over the large black walnuts dumped by squirrels in my lawn. For the latter I landed on soft grass and in a bed of black-eyed susans. But both the squirrels and the unknown jerk got cursed.

Inside the house I’ve fallen a few times, missing a step – on carpeted stairs. Then there is the bathtub. When I finally got my main handyman Mike here on Friday, I had him install two hand bars on the tub wall. And I will continue my practice of holding onto railings when going up and down stairs at home and in subway stations. Particularly the latter as my son fell down a few subway stairs and broke his ankle earlier in the summer. He is 37.

The CDC offers several tips to help prevent falls. Besides the bathroom bars, they also include getting your eyes tested annually (which I do), check for carpets you could trip over; check with your pharmacist for any medications you are taking that could make you sleepy or dizzy. And take extra Vitamin D. We don’t get enough in the nearly sunless winter months. I know that for a fact as three years ago I suffered from Vitamin D deficiency. Some days the pain in my bones was so bad I could hardly walk. I knew it wasn’t arthritis as the pain wasn’t in my joints but in my calf bones. Upping the Vitamin D dose a lot fixed that one.

So, you need to be vigilant about falls and possible causes. That won’t cover the weird like picture  hanging wire. Maybe the action here is to make sure you don’t just leave loose or carelessly throw something that someone could trip over.

God won’t necessarily have your back. That 95 per cent statistic proves that.

Read more of the CDC article at

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Falls prevention, God, Health, Health Seniors, Mother, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Vitamin D Deficiency, winter falls

Only Child trudges uphill

Teddy  points out my  time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Except for my garden, actually writing and meeting with old friends, this summer seems to be one big uphill venture for me. And that includes last Wednesday’s fall down – yes two days after being stung by a wasp. Then there is this on-again off-again respiratory sinusitis thing and other “normal” for me health issues.

My friends and I keep saying it’s just because we are getting old. I’m wondering if it is just that. We are all getting older and may not be able to do as much in a day as we used to. Our health may not be as good as when we were younger. But to yet again paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song “Is that all there is (to it)?”

My fall last week was 100 per cent someone else’s fault and I don’t mean God. No one pushed me either. But some careless b****** left picture wire outside and it blew onto the sidewalk up the street from me. I was wearing sandals and walking quickly to the main street to catch a bus. Normally I look ahead where I’m going, not on the ground. You guessed it, the unseen (then) wire got caught in a sandal and I went flying forward, sustaining a nasty large bleeding scrape on my right arm up to my elbow, a smaller scrape on my left knee, and bruises, bruises on my arms and legs. I’m still finding more bruises.

Of course with dripping blood from the arm I had to go home and apply first aid. But not before cursing the son of a ***** who left the wire out. So help me, if that person was around/and or I somehow could find out who he or she is, let’s just say they would be sorry.

It’s like I told my friend Carol the next day. This summer I have cursed so many people I don’t know for menacing acts.

It’s just turning into one of those summers, what with house issues and trying to find time to get things done. That includes my writing. When I finish dealing with the injuries and “ill health issues,” trying to organize my holidays and well, just getting out to get groceries it seems, I don’t have as much time to continue writing my third Beyond mystery book and promote the second one, Beyond Blood. Once into promoting and writing I get somewhere, but all that time I have to waste on the problems, etc. aggravates me.

Part of the problem is I have to deal with all of this on my own. No, I never want to live with anyone again, but a live-out partner would be nice.

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. I am getting together with some old friends and more of that is in the works. Sometimes looking back is better than looking forward.

And those who keep saying “moving forward” (I hate that overused expression) can take those two words and stuff them

My toonie’s worth.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Falls prevention, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Writing

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