Being the executive director of Eastern Area Agency on Aging and having all the programs and services at my fingertips, including, and this is important, fall prevention classes, does not shield me from experiences other seniors (I’m 62) have faced.
Recently, I took a fall. Being quite athletic, I have tumbled down numerous times. But this was different. Maybe it is my age. Falling as a senior seems to have an emotional impact. There is more to lose.
Let’s face it, you don’t plan to fall and you never know when it might happen. My husband and I were sailing to the dock in Stockton Springs, as we have done for years, on a beautiful Sunday.
My job was to step onto the dock and secure the bow line. My husband eased the boat to the dock but when I stepped out, I fell face down on my knees and left hand.
It knocked the wind out of me and I was shaky and rattled. There is the slow-motion feeling and knowing you can’t stop yourself from hitting the floor, or dock in my case. My hand hurt so badly that I wanted to vomit! I thought I had broken it. Given that I am left-handed, this would be a big deal. My knees were bleeding, but didn’t hurt that much, probably due to calluses built up from a rough and tumble childhood. And my pride was wounded in the fall. The docks were full of fishermen/women so I had a large audience.
Fortunately, I didn’t break anything this time. But after two weeks, my hand is still extremely stiff and sore. I sprained it badly. Time and ibuprofen are the only cures. The doctor said I was lucky I didn’t break my wrist because older women usually do when they fall on a hand.
I think all the weight lifting I do at the gym has truly been valuable. My knee scabs are healing well and strangely, I feel proud of them and will miss them when they are gone. I was always proud of my knee scabs when I was a kid because they showed my adventurous side.
Falling can happen to anyone. I play volleyball weekly with a group of women aged 40 to 75. Last year one of the women fell and did break her wrist. Even though we were playing on grass and she didn’t fall far, the ambulance took her to the hospital. It was a wake-up call for her to schedule a bone density test.
Upon reflection, I have a lot of falling stories. I have fallen while running, bicycling, surfing, and yes, even while walking. The list goes on and on. I once unintentionally tattooed my foot by falling on a burned log at the beach. Yet, amazingly I have never broken a bone.
Falling as a senior is different. And consequently, falling, whether injured or not, is a wake-up call to action. And hopefully next steps taken mean never falling again.
Eastern Area Agency on Aging offers Matter of Balance, Tai Chi and fall-risk balance assessments to help older people reduce their chances of taking a spill. We encourage every adult to pay attention and manage their balance. I will be doing Tai Chi myself.