I have seen far too many falls in the past couple of years. We take too many chances, we think we are immune, we avoid putting up grab bars and hand rails, we refuse to use a cane because we think we will look silly, we leave slippery spots on our walks and loose scatter rugs on our floors and stuff lying around on our stairs. We don't dry slick spots on our floors and we think we are immune. Until we fall. And then we wish we hadn't been so stubborn and careless.
My daughter fell when she inadvertently backed into an open dishwasher door and still has after effects from that episode. My wife fell when the sole on her new shoe caught on the edge of a rug and if you think I didn't have a paralysis of fear. The neighbor across the street fell at the gym, cracked his head, and died four days later. Another neighbor lady tripped over the concrete parking bumper and scarred her face. Senator Harry Reid fell at the gym and broke ribs and bones in his face. A lady down the street fell while doing table decorations at a Christmas party and broke her hip and went to the ER and then to hip surgery. Others trip over uneven pavement elevations and smash their faces and break their bones. Another neighbor slipped in the bathtub, went through numerous surgeries, and ultimately died from his injuries. And I could add to and multiply this list of falling disasters and accidents.
Our concern should be not only to protect ourselves from falls, but to protect others who may come to our homes from accidents. The obvious things to do are the following:
- Install hand rails anywhere you have steps. We installed a double handrail up the four steps from our garage to our home in Salt Lake and we had to argue like everything to get the builder to do it. Now we are so grateful for this decision. We installed a handrail on the flat three steps up to our front door, which not only protects us but visitors who also have a difficult time negotiating steps.
- Remove anything that is a danger, like errant scatter rugs, toys, obstructions of various kinds.
- If you need one, for heaven's sake use a cane.
- If you need balance therapy, see a physical therapist. You can improve your balance. I have.
- Install grab bars liberally in bathrooms, bathtubs, and showers. Grab bars aren't just for old people. Anyone at any age can slip and fall in the bathroom with disastrous consequences.
- Install raised toilets. If your toilets are extremely low, sooner or later someone is going to have a problem with them.
- Watch your step. Don't get distracted. Concentrate on where you are putting your feet.
- Look around you in all directions before you move so you don't stumble over something.
- Don't assume you are immune from falling. Most of the people I know who have fallen thought they were immune. Until they found out in one split second that they were not.
If you have more suggestions to add to this list, please send them. I would like to hope that these precautions might save even one fall if something I wrote here would be taken seriously and help someone avoid a fall.