Regardless of which list you reference, acrophobia (the fear of heights) always end up as one of peoples’ top phobias. And for good reason: falling can be not only scary but dangerous. And this peril increases as we age, our balance and resilience deteriorate, and skeletal structures become more porous and fragile. But even when we’re little, nobody wants to fall down… it hurts! Plus, the fall is a lot farther now that we’re no longer merely a couple of dozen inches from the ground. So preventing falling as we age is a major priority.
September rolls around to usher in fall (the season), and with its synonymous season, uses the opportunity to promulgate National Falls Prevention Month. Leaves are pretty falling; humans are not. And as we age, both the chances and repercussions of falling rise respectively, but luckily there are some precautions we can (and need to) take to reduce circumstances that could precipitate those nasty stumbles and tumbles. We’ve compiled a list of preventative measures that you can take to make sure you stay safe and upright.
The most obvious strategy is to make sure your terra firma is, in fact, firm, stable, and uncluttered. Making sure that rooms and walkways are clear and unobstructed, so there is nothing to trip on, is fundamental. Chatham Place’s professional housekeeping services will make certain living spaces are clean, clear, and tidy. If there are area rugs, make sure they lie flat, and even consider tacking, taping, or gluing them to the flooring so the edges do not furl up, creating a knobby tripping hazard. Cordon power strips and cords to the perimeter, rather than clothes-lining them across the floor, ostensibly creating booby-traps. This could require getting some extension cords to make sure they are long enough to run along baseboards from outlet to device.
Another prevention strategy is having a vision and hearing checked. The vision aspect is pretty straightforward: keeping eyes as sharp as possible to spot any obstacles before they get underfoot. In that same vein, make sure the lighting of your living space is adequate, and install night lights if necessary to illuminate your path for midnight bathroom trips. Hearing might seem less obvious, but the ear also plays a significant role in balance. So having your hearing and ear function checked can prevent instability issues before they even happen.
This is also a great time to embark upon an exercise regimen to improve your overall balance and strength. The more stable you are on your own two feet, the less likely you are to stumble. Additionally, if you do fall, muscle mass and better reflexes can help you fall in a manner that can prevent more egregious injury. Speaking of stability, if you have reached a point where you need increased support, such as a cane or walker, take solace in the increased independence and mobility that these devices can afford rather than feeling ashamed or burdened by their existence.
The extraordinary team at Chatham Place offers a variety of dynamic exercise and well-bring programs that offer precisely the support needed to maintain stability AND mobility. And if (or when) things progress to the point that one might need more assistance, or physical supports such as hand rails, mobility escorts, or service coordination, experts are on call to immediately address these concerns and provide solutions that work with any lifestyle constraints.
So while fall (the season!) cannot be avoided, many physical falls most definitely can. It’s a minor effort to make all the adjustments necessary to prevent them, and more than worth it to prevent injuries that can be not only inconvenient but result in serious impairment and complications. So let the leaves do the falling, and make sure you only end up horizontal, whether for sleeping, reading, or the relaxing savasana yoga pose, when it is your own choosing.