Aging Parents: Death from Falls, Part II, Observations

Observation about Seniors and Falling

(for resources on falling see Senior Adults and Falling and Keeping Our Parents and Ourselves Accident Free)

  • Three out of four of our parents fell while they were living active lives, albeit with certain chronic medical conditions.
  • All four attended classes or workshops on balance assessment and fall prevention. Our parents found these sessions  interesting and intellectually stimulating but did not subsequently apply much of what they learned.
  • After these classes they all tended to assume that if they could do the exercises they were OK, not processing the information about regular exercise practice preventing future falls.
  • All four are taking or took four or more medications each day. Some of these are known to have dizziness side effects.
  • All four were advised at some point by occupational therapists to make specific changes in their apartments (rugs, bath chairs, furniture rearrangement, etc.). Few were made until an injury required a change.

  • All at some time or another have rejected the notion of a cane or walking stick.
  • Two proceeded to a walker after a fall — it appeared to be too late from this point to try to master a cane.
  • None of their physicians have introduced the idea of a cane or a walking stick, and no one has shown them the amazing places on the web where people can purchase canes and walking sticks that are fun and fashionable.
  • Our parents all have friends whose fall had to do with a pet. Pets appear to be a hazard because they move quietly, pull hard on leashes, and sleep underfoot (and quietly). Workshops and strategy sessions should be available for elderly pet owners (an especially motivated group, I’ve observed).

N.B. Since I am not a researcher or an epidemiologist, my thoughts are based on watching the health and wellness education of our four senior parents and reading epidemiological research and writing. Also, one of our parents died from complications that followed two falls.

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