F is for Fear of Falling

I joined a balance class that meets two days a week in the active retirement community where I live. It seemed like a good idea since my doctor tells me I have osteopenia, the stage you go through before osteoporosis.

With the class, I hope to improve my agility and prevent a fall where I might break a hip. My mother suffered that, as had her 94-year-old grandmother some 40 years earlier. In both cases, the broken hip was just the first part of a downward spiral leading to death.

Here’s an article that my mother wrote for the online site Squidoo back in 2009. Before Christmas in 2012, Mom slipped on a throw rug at someone’s home and broke her hip. After hip replacement surgery, she was in rehab and hoped to go home in a few weeks. Unfortunately several heart attacks followed and she died at age 88.

Advice for Seniors – Avoid Falling at Home

A while back, I took a tumble at home and really gave my leg a whack. Fortunately it wasn’t broken, but it sure hurt. Falls can happen to anyone, but when you’re older, it gets more dangerous.

I’d taken some precautions, but here are a variety of things you can do to avoid falling at home. No matter what your age, you need to remove tripping hazards from your home. The tips I provide here are targeted to the elderly, but others can benefit as well.

I’d already removed most of the throw rugs in the house. Those are notorious for slipping underfoot or getting an edge flipped up for you to trip over.

Don’t leave clutter on the floor. I clip the newspapers, so I put a basket for those and my scissors under the side table. That way I won’t accidentally step on the loose papers and go skating across the room.
 
Be particularly careful if you have pets. Dogs and cats love to follow you around and to twine around your legs. You probably won’t give them up, so just be careful.
 

Change Your Behavior to Avoid a Fall

  • 1 – When you get up from sleeping, sit for a minute on the edge of the bed. That lets you get oriented and more balanced when you stand.
  • 2 – Don’t leap up and dash for the phone. Keep a cordless phone at hand by your chair. Then you won’t be breaking your neck just for a recorded sales pitch. If you don’t have a cordless phone, take your time getting to the phone. They will leave a message or call back if it’s important.
  • 3 – When you carry things, be careful that they don’t block your view of the floor.
  • 4 – Don’t stack things in normal walkways. Put things in a corner, a closet, or up on a chair. Don’t walk around without turning on a light at night.
  • 5 – If you use a laprobe to keep out the winter chill, be very careful not to get tangled in it. Totally unwrap it from your legs and put it aside.

Health Tips That Prevent Falls

  • 1 – Know about any precautions you should take with your medicines. Does your blood pressure medicine make you a little woozy? Read over the paper the pharmacy gives you with the medicine. If you take more than one medicine, ask the doctor or the pharmacist to be sure they don’t interfere with each other.
  • 2 – Ask your doctor to do a balance assessment on you. They can do this at most health fairs too. If your balance needs improving, there are simple exercises you can do.
  • 3 – If you are supposed to use a cane or a walker, don’t be too proud and independent to use it. Remember, safety first.
  • 4 – Have your eyes checked every year. Maybe you aren’t seeing everything that you need to.
  • 5 – Don’t go too long without eating. Skipping regular meals can make you light-headed and apt to fall.

Guardian Alert

My daughter got me one of these. It makes me feel more secure that if I should fall, I could push the button and be instantly connected with 911.

LogicMark Guardian Alert 911

If you are thinking of a Life Alert to wear in case of falls, you might be put off by the monthly monitoring fees. This one doesn’t require that, so is much more affordable. The button connects you directly with 911, so no monthly service fee. Peace of mind.

More Tips – Use a Cane If You Are Unsteady

Don’t be too proud and risk a fall

For inside the house, I just use a regular cane, but in the yard, I prefer the four-footed one for more stability on uneven ground.

Don’t lock the bathroom door.

If you have a fall in there, no one can get in to help you.

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4 thoughts on “F is for Fear of Falling

  1. What an amazing way to honor your mom! What a moving tribute! Plus she sounds like a great lady; cheerful, pragmatic, strong. I’d love to think my son might do that for me one day. I’m doing the A to Z challenge and was tooling around looking for fellow ‘memoirists’ to follow. My mother died three years ago this month; she had Alzheimer’s so in many ways the mother I knew died years ago. Still, I miss her.

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  2. These are excellent tips. I’m at the age where I am more careful for fear of falling. I tend to hold on to handrails and steady myself against what is nearby. I’ve fallen a few times and it’s usually due to not paying attention.

    Last year, in her final year of life, my mother had a few falls that scared us. When I was visiting her last July, she was getting up from the living room couch to make her way to bed when she lost balance and fell backward. Fortunately I was behind her just in case, but when she fell she went so fast and quickly that she knocked me down and fell on top of me. That allowed her fall to be cushioned by me so that she was not hurt by the fall and I essentially caught myself so that I was not injured but only ended up with some minor pain for a few days.

    Nearly 4 months later my mother died. That fall when I was visiting was just part of the prelude to her deteriorating condition and I my sisters said she had a few more falls after that even though she was using a cane and taking precautions.

    Your advice is good for anyone who is still mobile to some degree, yet needs to be extra careful. Very good post for the letter “F”.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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