I have a confession to make. A few columns ago, I wrote that I didn’t do advice columns because I don’t have enough data in my head.
Now, I feel I’m imitating those politicians who flip-flop. I have had some personal experience as an elderly person who has fallen too many times.
Over the past 11 years, I have experienced five injury falls, usually losing a half ounce of blood.
Looking back, I fell because I wasn’t paying attention. Once I caught my toe on a curb. Another time, I ignored a friend’s admonition to be careful as I descended a sloping sidewalk. Then, I stumbled on a little water drainage channel in the sidewalk and ended up with a fractured upper right arm.
I had to wear my arm in a sling for at least 30 days.
I now try to have something solid nearby that I can touch with my hand.
Because my late wife Margie suffered from a severe stroke, we had a number of horizontal and perpendicular metal bars installed in the bedroom and bathroom, even in the shower stall.
Now, I use those stabilizing bars dozens of times each day. Walking down a hallway, I touch every door jamb to keep my balance.
One of the greatest inventions ever developed to prevent falls is the four-wheeled walker.
I use mine inside my condo and outside when I walk for 30 minutes almost every day.
There is a seat for resting and at mealtime it provides a level platform for moving food and drinks from the kitchen to the big chair in the living room.
It’s easy to keep your balance when you have both hands clutching the handlebar and you can walk as fast as you want to.
I also have a light-weight, four-footed walker that makes it possible to lay it on top of the trash barrels to be used in crossing the driveway with safety.
Older adults are often on sleep medications that can deteriorate balance.
Be sure to check out even the smallest step and be careful not to trip on it. I have a 2-inch break in two floor levels and I have to be aware of the danger every time I cross over it.
The first time I walked out of the optician’s office with bifocals, I almost fell crossing the sidewalk. It takes some time to get used to them.
I have become a strong advocate for elderly people using a medical alert device, dangling from a lanyard around the neck.
My device is extremely sensitive. If I fell and was unconscious, it would summon a band of first responders automatically. They know where to find me with GPS.
On two or three occasions, I have had tall, strong firefighters appear at my door to rescue me when I had accidentally touched the call button. It’s embarrassing to have those guys roll when I’m personally fine, just a little careless.
Falling is weird. The descent is so quick, you don’t have time to think, “Hey, I’m falling.” All of a sudden, you’re lying down on the pavement, the floor or a green lawn.
I am hell-bent on trying not to make a habit of it.