Category Archives: winter 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 on the winter snow blahs

winter-13505549207QUSouthern Ontario got blasted with a big snowstorm Sunday night into Monday – the first big one this season. Unlike winter sports enthusiasts and people who just love snow, I was and am not happy about all this. When I see people-on-the-street interviews on TV I just want to throw snowballs at the interviewees happy acceptance of snow.

Maybe if they had to shovel several driveways of snow in an afternoon they would change their minds. No, I didn’t. Had enough trouble shovelling my own driveway etc. Got part of it done and then came inside for a break. One of those itinerant snow shovellers knocked on my door to do the rest and $30 less later (Canadian so not really that much with the loonie’s rate under 80 cents on the dollar), it was cleared.

But my mind filled with worry isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I may hate winter with a passion, but I can accept the deep-freeze temperatures as long as we get little or no precipitation. And we were doing so well in Toronto, Canada up to Sunday. Small or smallish amounts of snow would arrive and then it would gradually warm up and the snow would disappear. Sure, it looked bleak outside but when I walked around I was grateful that it was dry. Even the smallish amount of snow we got last Thursday could have melted slowly.

Then we got dumped with 20 cm. Sunday into Monday morning.

So why do I worry?

  1. Getting it cleared out, obviously.
  2. Being able to get around for errands, meetings and to see friends and family. That includes public transit, some of which can’t seem to handle even small amounts of snow (like the buses in my area).
  3. Connected to the above, there is the risk of falling in slush, ice (when that snow freezes over), etc. I’ve already fallen on ice once this year, although before the big snowstorm. Luckily my thick coat saved me from injury.
  4. The snow ploughs cometh and park the ploughed snow in inconvenient places. I have to keep an eye on where so they don’t cover up the cache basins in case of…see No. 5 below. And yesterday a big road plough backed up and hit a car behind it. I didn’t see that but I sure heard the woman yelling at the plough driver. I was backing her 100 per cent.
  5. The inevitable meltdown (of the snow, not me), which will probably include some rain somewhere down the road and then I have to worry about water getting into my basement. Why? The ground is frozen; there is a lot of snow on the ground, and when rain falls on it, it can’t all get absorbed into the ground. The evestroughs and downspouts are filled with ice and get blocked. Often we get a snow and rain mix (one after the other) to make it even worse. With the little snow we had up to Sunday and slow melts in the sun, even some rain would not have poured water into my basement.
  6. When accompanied by high winds, there is the worry of fallen trees, fallen tree branches, fallen utility wires, and power outages.

Although I see no beauty in snow, I was glad last evening after dark when I saw three boys around 12 or 13 throwing snowballs at each other from the snow piled up by the snow ploughs. At least they weren’t indoors on the computer. However, I was not outside, but looking out the window in my front door.

Remember, snow is a four-letter word.

Shovels up or should that be down?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Snow, Snow Removal, Weather, Winter blahs, winter falls, Winter Weather

Only Child finds nothing pretty about winter

Winter's misery has landed

Winter’s misery has landed

Bah humbug. Winter is here way too early. Again. Some of the maple trees still have leaves. If I sound like the Grinch that’s how I feel about winter. I don’t ski, snowshoe, snowboard, skido or skate. And I hate the cold. Looking at all that white stuff out there does nothing for my soul. Snow requires shovelling.

The other thing I see when I look out my front window is my poor juniper tree, still showing some of its damage from the bitter cruel winter of last year. God gave us this “wonderful” weather which damaged many trees and other garden shrubs. I’m still waiting for him to do the right thing and fix the damage he caused/let happen.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that some of my juniper came back. But it wasn’t two thirds of it like I asked God. More like one third.

So, we now have at least six months of winter misery to worry about all the variety of nasty weather we can get – you know, not just old-fashioned snow in moderate amounts, but blizzards, rain-snow mixes that aren’t only snow flurries and rain, heavy blustery winds, sleet and the most dreaded – ice storms.

We don’t want any of the latter in particular. But because it happened last winter here in southern, south western and eastern Ontario, it can happen again.

It better not.

So, I will focus on writing, cooking, indoor gardening, friends, family, book promo and the like. And venture out when I have to, including trying to get in some walking on a near-daily basis.

But I worry about our trees, homes, etc.

No matter where you live in this world it is not safe from God’s weather destruction.

No wonder I want to go back in time – even to the late 1990s when all was not lost in our world – yet.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Extreme Weather, Home and Garden, Ice Storm Southern Ontario, Ice storm Toronto, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Trees and Shrubs, Uncategorized, Weather, winter falls, Winter Weather

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