The guy who drives this body of mine thinks he’s forty-something. He’s right, of course. He’s forty-twenty-nine. He is inclined to drive a bit too fast … not our car, our body. He lifts things that are heavier than we should be lifting and contorts us into positions that a forty-twenty-nine man should not assume … say, reaching under the sink to tighten a valve … leaving us sore the next morning. He reaches for things in the back seat of our car from the front seat, forgetting how we strained our back the last time we did that. I know he thinks we’re forty-something because he’s arrogant and he never learns, even when life hits us up side the head to remind us … take it easy.
Today, on an errand run, I stopped at our local CVS drugstore to pick up some batteries. It was 12:45 in the afternoon. I’d skipped breakfast … except for coffee, of course … and I was thinking about where I’d stop for lunch before I headed off to the bank to deposit a check I’d received in the mail. In other words, I … and the forty-something inside me … were in a hurry and not really paying attention to what was going around us. Of course, that was when the curb in front of CVS moved fourteen inches, hitting my right foot and sending me tumbling forward. Right up until the time we hit the ground, forty-something was saying, We’re not going to fall, you know. We’ll catch our balance. We didn’t. Right knee touched down first, followed by left hand then left knee. Ouch. Why is it that there are always a dozen or two people around when I fall? Do I ever feel older than when they all come running up and stand around me, asking, Are you OK, sir? Are you OK? Truth? It hurts like hell and I don’t know yet, but I say, Yeah, I’m fine just to get them to go away.
Now it’s evening and I’m semi-watching the Holiday Bowl while I post. My left arm aches (a bruise) and my right knee hurts like hell (a nasty abrasion). I had to kick our Siamese cat, Mr. P, off my lap because he kept settling on it. I checked in the Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog archives and found that I had a similar fall back in November of 2011. When I told Muri about my fall, she said, Bud, we have to be careful and pay attention to what we’re doing. What do you mean we, I said. Did you fall? I didn’t say, Talk to the forty-something driving me. She’d only shake her head. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three adults over 65 falls each year, so I’m doing more than my part. It’s actually no joke. Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries which caused 46% of fall fatalities among older adults in the year 2000. The CDC recommends the following for seniors who want to prevent falls:
- Exercise regularly focusing on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may dizziness or drowsiness.
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
- Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving the lighting.
I’ll be adding some balance exercises to my repertoire and considering single vision glasses because I know my progressive lenses distort my vision around my feet. I’ll also be taking Muri’s suggestion to keep my head where my feet are. The forty-something won’t like it but I’ll be driving from now on.