First of all I want to thank the ladies who responded to my piece on fall prevention, and were interested enough to ask questions. I wish I had all of the answers, but I am going through a period of trial and error myself. I am not a physical or occupational therapist, but I am terribly impressed by the work that they do. I did work as a nurse in a retirement center for many years so I do know that falling is a real concern. Indeed, what does happen if your knees are bad or you fall somewhere where you can’t get to a chair to pull yourself up? What I can do is help you think this through. Hopefully we can get other people to share their own fears, concerns, and solutions.
Older people are prone to falls for all sorts of reasons. The only person who can keep a fall from turning into a catastrophe is you. You absolutely must entertain the idea that a fall could happen to you, BEFORE it happens. I did learn when working in long term care that you have the right to fall. Does that make sense? What it means is that no one else can prevent you from indulging in risky behaviors.
If you plan on aging in place, especially if you live alone, you need to think about what measures to take to ensure your own safety. The best ways to reduce risks is to:
- Beginning a regular exercise program to improve strength, balance and coordination.
- Fall proofing your home
- Reviewing your medicines with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure that dizziness, sleepiness or other side effects are not setting you up for a fall.
- Vision and wellness check-ups on a regular basis.
Get down on the floor right now and practice getting up (under supervision). Read books or watch videos if you don’t know where to start. The easiest way (now that you are computer savvy) is to type the words “getting up after a fall” into your search engine. You will find some excellent videos that will walk you through the process. If you aren’t brave enough to try on your own, take a better balance class at your local hospital or senior center. If you have difficulties with balance and walking because of poor muscle strength or a chronic illness, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist for a one-on-one evaluation.
Basically it is up to you to make sure that you can get up or at least summons help. Wear a voice of help pendent or keep your cell phone on your person at all times. Write and tell me what you are doing to make sure that a fall does not end life as you know it.