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Preventing Falls on the First Day of Fall

Depending on who's talking, today is the first day of fall or tomorrow is the first day of fall. The day has to do with the tilt of the earth, northern and southern hemispheres, daylight savings time and

Oh, never mind. Here in the United States, all of September is designated National Falls Prevention Month By The National Council on Aging (NCOA) and tomorrow, Tuesday, is Falls Prevention Awareness Day in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

I like that someone, a few years ago, connected falls and Fall making it a handy reminder for an annual prevention checkup.

Now don't go yawning. I write this post every year because unlike many old age afflictions, falls are something over which we have a lot of personal control. All we need is some vigilance.

Falling is serious business for old people:


Did you see those words “leading cause”? That means, the NCOA tells us, someone in our age group dies from a fall every 29 minutes.

Every year, one-third of Americans 65 and older – 12 million of us – fall. Even if someone doesn't die from it, a broken bone can severely restrict the rest of an old person's life.

The good news is that falls are highly preventable. In past years, I have given you a long list of causes and remedies – the 2013 edition is here.

This year, I discovered an excellent, easy-to-read falls and fractures section at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website that lists the variety of causes with links to the best information for prevention.

This NCOA page clears up some myths about falls.

And remember, too, what your mother repeatedly warned you: “Watch where you're going.”

Here's a little video clip I used on last year's falls prevention post. I still like it – from the old TV show, Hill Street Blues.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: E Pluribus Unum


I'm sitting here with a leg brace to protect my knee after falling over a "throw rug" two weeks ago. Last week I was told I fractured my patella as well as bruising ribs. I knew as well as anyone about the hazards of throw rugs but didn't act on the information. Believe me after this, no more unless taped down. It's time to take it seriously! I'm 81. Very scary to read what you've given us today and so helpful.

Valuable and scary information. Falls of my father0in-law plus mother-in-law's dementia is what sent them into s spiral five years ago, from which they never recovered. It was a one-way trip which, in reflection, I think some of could have been avoided or at least delayed and minimized -- the falls, at least, probably not the dementia. This frightens me because we have several cement steps leading up to our house, and in the long and brutal northern Illinois winters, they can be treacherous. This alone may cause us to make some unwanted housing decisions sooner rather than later. Thank you for the caveats.

I am living proof that falls are no fun. I have broken my shoulder, my hip, a finger, and two ribs by falling. With the exception of the hip, all of my falls were due to being careless. Long story for another day.

At 103 and healthy, my Mom, who walked 200 steps 3 times each day, fell. Her hip was broken. Surgery we learned, does not happen at that age.
She died 2 weeks later......

At 83 I walk with a cane although like my Mom, I am healthy. The cane is a prop that makes me feel a bit more secure....

Precaution seems like a good idea!

As a resident in an assisted living facility, I have been witness to many falls. While most of those falls result in only a bruised ego, some have been much worse resulting in weeks in a hospital.
Unfortunately, many of those falls are caused, not by being pushed, or tripping over a carpet, but by people who are too vein or too embarrassed to use their walkers or canes. In addition, many residents don't
report their falls for the same reason.Perhaps, someday mobility aids will become as trendy as I-pads and smart phones.

My husband and I were just having this discussion about falls being the downfall for so many elderly folk we have known.

It seems that one fall leads to another until something major is broken, an as Elizabeth Evelyn pointed out, there reaches a point where surgery is not an option.

And Bruce is right on when he says too many are too vain to use the tools they have available. I am currently helping a lady that has this problem. She has always been mobile, and at 66 really shouldn't be as bad off as she is, but she is and she needs at least a walker and probably a wheelchair. She refuses to take the walker when leaving home, and attempts to maneuver with just a cane. It is insufficient for her disability.

Whether trendy or not, I will be willing to use whatever I need to keep moving should I need a mobility device. Heck, I've never been trendy, no point in starting in old age.

Dkzody, that's right. Whatever item gets us where we want to go, whether it be walker, cane, electric scooter, use it or lose it.

Like some other commenters, I am recovering from a broken bone. However my story is a bit different and it doesn't involve ice or rugs. The bone is the humerus... broken near the shoulder.

When I showed up at the orthopedist's office, a man who had repaired a different bone for me some years ago... his first words were: "Really Trudi, if you wanted to visit, you didn't have to break another bone! How did you do it?" My reply: "I crashed my bicycle". Silence. "I have many patients your age with a similar fracture... none of them did that!"

Today, nine weeks after the crash, I took my beloved bike out for the first time. (it was not injured in the crash... just me) It was a baby ride but it felt good.

Some of my friends are urging me to hang up my wheels... I do not plan to for now. I've been riding for 65 years. I've had some skinned knees and awkward dismounts but this was the first serious (and, yes painful) accident. I can't protect myself against every possible bad outcome and still enjoy the things I like to do... and I'm able to do. This was a freak accident. If it happens again... I'll have to re-evaluate.

Just lucky, I guess. So far despite many misadventures (being an EMT will do it) no
damage I have done including being run-over has been lasting. However, this warning is not just for us oldsters--many of my 'calls' were for teenagers who fell or slipped especially in the shower. So watch out!
Oh how I miss "Hill Street Blues".

On Ronni's Elder Story Telling Place, my posted story "Beware of Loose Gravel" on August 13, I told of my hip fracture and surgery. What I did not tell, was about the recovery. You would not want to hear much about that. The only reason I was able to go directly home instead of a nursing home, was because my daughter moved in with us to care for me during the day while my husband was at work. I needed a wheelchair, walker, a portable potty chair beside my bed, and a grabber. I stifled my screams as the 22 metal clamps were removed from the 10 inch incision on my hip. I was sent home from my first therapy appointment two and a half weeks after the surgery. I was told I was in no shape to begin therapy yet. Oh, Darlene....I cannot imagine what you must have gone through.

I climb the ladder to paint walls a bit more cautiously at 77 than I did at 57, but I don't plan to stop painting just yet although I can't do a whole room in an afternoon like I used to. As far as falling, I've been lucky (no serious tumbles so far) but I also try to be reasonably careful.

I fall regularly, (I'm a bonafide klutz) and generally not from anything I could prevent. I suspect that if a fall is going to be the end of me, the end was pretty near anyhow.

Excellent reminder! Get rid of those throw rugs. Bring in more lighting. Install grab bars in the bathroom. Oh ... and give up skiing! (That was my last fall, a few years ago, at age 60 ... broke my arm.)

Every time I take a shower, I think long and hard about how soon I can manage to get the bathroom remodeled. Stepping into a tub (a soaking tub with high, wide sides) offers ample potential for a bad fall. I want a nice walk-in shower in its place.

We also have a huge, essentially useless tub in the master bath of our '70's-era manufactured home, in addition to a tiny shower. We'd love to have the tub removed and a walk-in shower installed for safety and appearance reasons. Just one big problem: the $7-10,000+ it would cost. . .We're probably stuck with it as-is.

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