A little over a week ago, I fell like I have never fallen before, twice within a three day span. The first time, I was mucking about a new build near our house and stepped out of a framed wall onto the ground outside. My trifocals lied to me and the one foot drop was actually three feet. A scraped knee and elbow were the only damages. I was not as fortunate the second time as the fall was hard, onto a concrete surface resulting in damage to my shoulder, hand and other knee. I was fortunate. The fall was through an open door, down a two step stoop and adjacent to a parked car. My head missed the bumper by a few inches as I came to rest alongside the car. To add to the indignity, I was laying in wine and glass from a bottle of very good Moscato that I had kicked off the edge of the stoop on the way down. Sharon had to back the car out so that I could roll onto my back and get up. My right arm was numb and shoulder hurt terribly. I thought I heard the Reaper leave the garage.
At out age, virtually every visit to the doctor is accompanied by his or her asking if you have fallen recently. We tend to blow those questions off, even suggesting that everybody falls once in awhile. When you are 25, conditioned and quick, you manage most at grade falls with ease. When you are over 65, you do not. I thought a little primer on the significance of falling might prove helpful.
Falls in the elderly are big business for hospitals. We know that 67% of falls do not happen from a height, rather at ground level. We know that in America, falls result in one million hospitalizations annually. We know that someone dies as a result of a fall every 19 minutes. We also know that if you have a measurable hearing loss you have 3 times the propensity to fall. Not even Tom Brady is immune from the deterioration of our bodies over time. Older people do not fall well. We know that certain medications increase the likelihood of falling and that if you are overweight you are 37% more likely to fall. We know that physical inactivity predisposes you to falling and we know the incidence of falling in America has increased significantly over the past decade. Finally, NEVER think it only happens to the other guy. We are all a step away from being that other guy, a fact that I gleaned from my recent experiences.
So what happened to launch me headfirst out of a door and down a brick stoop onto concrete? Inattention is the answer, along with a loose blanket on the floor that had slipped off Tazzy’s dog bed. I had turned in the mud room to hang keys on the keyboard, slipped on the dog blanket and shot through the open door, headfirst, like a torpedo launched from a tube. A couple hundred pounds, headfirst into a car bumper, would likely have been the end. I was, at once, hurt, chagrined, irritated, scared and thankful. An x-ray shows no fracture, a MRI will tell us about the certain soft tissue damage.
Here is the takeaway. Watch where you step. Do NOT wander around in darkness. Use hand rails or door frames when ascending or descending. When you stand, take a second to let your feet “wake up” before charging ahead. Remove fall hazards, such as loose throw rugs, clothing or dog toys from your path. Remember that stairs, even just a couple of them, will kill you. In our early lives, we concentrated on walking. It is the same in late life. Complacency while underway will add your name to the statistics noted above. The Grim Reaper stays close to “mature” folks, please don’t let him in……..Falling to your death is not the way to end your run.
Have a great week!