The Anatomy of a Fall — Mine

My Boot!

My Boot!

In April 2016 the health writer Jane Brody wrote a powerful essay in the New York Times Personal Health column, Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond. She described the importance of focusing, as we age, on a healthy life style and maintaining social relationships as well as adjusting to age-related physical changes that occur. Brody specifically noted that we need to make individual adjustments to reduce the risk of falls.

All-in-all, the article, mostly focused on women, but much also applicable to men, encouraged people to think in all sorts of ways about what they can do to stay as healthy and strong as possible as aging progresses.

I am still a distance from age 70, yet Brody’s New York Times article offered a wake-up call — reminding me to think about my own aging and any potential issues. I thought a lot about the things we have already done in our own house to prevent falling problems and considered what else we might do. And then, a few weeks later, I fell.

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About Half of All Americans Over 65 Have a Fall — Each Year

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Click to look at the CDC’s complete pamphlet.

I’ve just finished reading a Washington Post article, Strategies for Preventing Falls, Which Are Especially Risky for Older People, appearing in the online edition on March 16, 2015, It reviews the risks, examines the facts about falling, describes how to check an individual’s steadiness, and makes suggestions about the various ways a person can improve balance.

The article describes a number of tests that can evaluate whether a person is prone to falling. An aging parent should perform them with a physician or physical therapist, who can go through the series of steps and safely evaluate whether or not a person is likely to fall. Physically fit adult children can probably experiment —  carefully — at home with some of these tests. The Washington Post article explains them in detail, so I’ve just listed the tests below, and I’ve also linked several of the tests to videos.                        Continue reading

Falls, Falls, and More Falls – Part II

The other day I wrote about elder adults and falls after reading Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation, published in the November 2, 2014 New York Times. The author, Katie Hafner, wrote about the extreme challenges of falls for aging individuals. The next day, November 3rd, part II appeared. Katie Hafner’s second piece, A Tiny Stumble, A Life Upended, focused on one individual and her arduous recovery from a damaging fall. Both articles are worth reading.

My Past Blog Posts on Adult Falls

Falls, Falls, and More Falls for Older Adults – NY Times Article

The line on each bar illustrates the margin or error. Statisticians call this a confidence interval.

The line on each bar illustrates the margin or error. Statisticians call this a confidence interval.

I’ve just finished reading Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation, uploaded a few hours ago on the New York Times website. Long time readers of this blog, AsOurParentsAge,  know that I’ve been keenly interested in falls, and I’ve written about them often (see a list of links at the end of this post). My husband’s parents experienced some terrible falls, and one lead within to my father-in-law’s death a month or so afterward.

The Times article, by Katie Hafner, datelined in San Francisco, describes the increasing frequency of elder falls and the challenges presented, principally in one community for older adults. This is a long and detailed article, periodically quoting elder experts in the field and highlighting that many older adults, even the parents of some of these experts, continue to reject canes, walkers, and other supports that offer them greater balance. The report includes several excellent graphics. Continue reading

Pets Can Cause Falls

Check out these safety guidelines.

I watched it happen almost in slow motion.

An elderly woman climbed out of her golf cart, and her medium-sized dog bounded out beside her. But then the dog saw another dog and without looking back, tried to take off, jerking on the leash. The woman held onto the leash, but she fell down. Her injuries were severe enough to require a call to the rescue squad and a trip to the hospital.

A March 2012 New York Times New Old Age blog article, Rethinking the Value of Pets, highlights the dangers of mixing pets and elders, and it contains links to research on pets, people, and accidents. So many pet-related falls occur, that the article quotes Harold Herzog, a professor at Western Carolina University, who comments, “If we were giving a drug that had such serious side effects, we’d consider taking that drug off the market.”

Realistically, people are not going to give up pets. However, more care needs to be taken. Below are a few resources to read, just to keep informed about the potential problems.          Continue reading

Different Falls – Different Interventions

If you have aging parents who falls — and recently one of my parents took a spill — read the article about senior falling in the September 2010 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Mobilize Boston, the organization that conducted the research stated on its website that, “The purpose of the study is to collect information that will help us learn how older adults can maintain their health and independence longer.” The article abstract is free, but the article itself requires payment (or you can visit the library at your local hospital).

Identifying the differences between senior falls that occurred inside and those that occurred outside, the Mobilize Boston Study followed a cohort of 765 randomly selected men and women, most over 70 years old. Researchers collected data through questionnaires and medical examinations. During a median follow-up period of 21.7 months, 1,122 total falls occurred, consisting of 598 indoors and 524 outdoors. All study participants were Boston, Massachusetts residents, and they reported falls as they occurred.

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