When I got the email announcing “Fall Prevention” I jumped into action, all set for a protest. With so many of our liberties at stake, now they want to take away my favorite season?
I marched into the meeting room ready to chant, armed with an “I love autumn” sign and my protest hat perched menacingly on my head. Imagine my relief when I realized that it was a program to teach adults of a certain age how to avoid falls in their advancing years.
My relief morphed into dismay when I learned that the simple act of remaining upright when a slight wind blows became an issue for me on my last birthday. Each year, more than one in four older adults aged 65 and older will fall.
And, since we’re all in this together, allow me to share what I learned.
1. Exercise for the health of it. How I long for the days of rock hard abs and buns of steel so I could strut my stuff in a bikini on the beach! Limber limbs that spiced up my sex life are now nature’s way to keep me grounded so I don’t list to the side. I learned that exercise is a major player to keep from toppling over.
2. Get some granny shoes. It’s time to replace my pointy-toe Christian Louboutin stilettos with rubber soled shoes that give me stealth ability. I will be able to sneak up my enemies, and the catalog says they come in all the latest designer fashions and colors. Can’t wait for my next $20.00 DSW coupon to stock up on a few pairs of thick-soled beauties to match all my outfits.
3. Paint belongs on walls, not toenails. Sexy feet are for the young? Let them have their glossy red pedicure and leg massage. I’d rather line up at the podiatrist’s office and sit with all the other seniors waiting for a monthly toenail trim. It doesn’t matter anymore since I’ll be wearing closed-toe rubber-soled lace-up granny shoes.
4. Sidle up to the bar. Nothing screams old like grab bars in the bathroom. It seems that I need them to haul my wrinkled self out of the tub or onto the toilet. If I tell someone I’m going bar-hopping it means I’m going to the bathroom or taking a shower.
5. Live a clean life. Up to now I’ve lived by the mantra: “A spotless house is a sign of a misspent life.” As a proudly terrible housekeeper up to this point, I doubt that I’m suddenly going to don an apron and flit around with a feather duster in my 60’s. Why waste the time, since it sounds like I’m about to end up in a wheelchair pretty soon anyway?
6. Go shopping. I’m in the market for shiny baubles that sense when I’ve fallen down. This new technology detects a change in barometric pressure that results when a body transitions quickly from vertical to horizontal. The friendly stranger receiving the signal that I’ve fallen and can’t get up will contact my loved ones and 911. I can’t wait to invest in one of these fine pieces of jewelry so I can have strangers staring at me as I struggle to regain consciousness when the rubber soles fail me, I can’t grip the bars and the clutter in my house overtakes me.
While I’m happy that autumn is not in jeopardy, I’m aghast at the reality that the inability to walk around on two feet is the number one cause of injuries and death from injury in my age group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adults 65+ represent 29 million falls, 3 million emergency department visits, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 28,000 deaths. As the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, falls will continue to soar, as America’s baby boomers grow older.
The message is clear: stand proud and tall while we can, and keep on dancin’.