This is to reiterate the importance of something I wrote in a recent article: Falling. I’ve written about falling on these pages several times. I’ve written about how to prevent falls and how to recover if you do fall. Maybe I should be more careful what I write about.
Edie and I were out of town last weekend for an event. We were walking in the town park in Havre de Grace, MD on a mild and sunny day, having a nice conversation and walking down a series of wide and well marked steps. Edie was engrossed in a conversation with me and missed a step. After a few gyrations of hands and arms flailing around and legs giving way, she was able to catch herself as she began heading downward.
Edie said the reason she was able to catch herself was as a result of building her ankle strength through a series of ankle exercises she does in a class at the gym. The exercises are simple and I recommend them to everyone. She simply lies on her back with one leg in the air and one leg bent with that foot flat on the floor, and writes the letters of the alphabet with each foot in the air. It strengthens the ankles and make them more flexible to help catch you in the event you start to fall.
That’s fall number one for the weekend.
The second fall is embarrassing. I caught my foot in the bedspread in the hotel room where we stayed, tripped, and fell to the floor. Fortunately, the direct route to the floor was interrupted by a desk chair which broke the fall. I still hit the floor fairly hard but managed to escape injury.
Since most emergency room admissions for seniors are a result of injuries from a fall, we missed out on a good opportunity to test the ER Facilities of the Havre de Grace Hospital.
Most falls result from slipping, tripping, or missing. I would call Edie’s near fall missing, and my own as tripping. Most are caused by some kind of home environment hazard like poorly marked steps, loose light cords, corners of carpets or rugs, or small, loose rugs. It pays to pay attention to where you are and what you are doing when you are around any sort of potential hazard. Most of the hazards will sneak up on you. But you can protect yourself by being fit and strengthening your legs and core muscles.
Edie was fortunate to catch herself. I was lucky I had a desk chair to break my fall. But had we been paying attention to what we were doing, neither of us would have found ourselves as close to possible injury as we were.
It was a good lesson for both of us. We now know to be more careful of those hazards that are around us everywhere, particularly in unfamiliar places. You must be careful too.
Thanks for reading.