There’s an old hymn titled “Take Time to be Holy,” which is an expression of how one must keep their spiritual body together during trying times. As the Christmas season is creeping upon us at a fast rate, many elder folks will try to prepare for that most holy day by cleaning up and decorating the house. Well, many elders who think that they can do everything will overextend themselves, not realizing that they do not have the same muscle power, dexterity, balancing power or visual capacity as they once did.
Often, while decorating, a chair or ladder may be necessary. I can only tell you, one fall from that height can be disastrous. I recall having a wonderful patient who was enjoying good health only to experience a simple fall from a chair.
Mrs. A. was a wonderfully active 75-year-old who accidentally fell while putting up curtains for the holidays. The fall caused her to fracture her hip. She underwent surgery for repair of the fracture and responded well. Two days after surgery, she became incoherent and had to be restrained in her hospital bed. From straining at the restraints holding her wrists, she experienced severe chest pain and an EKG revealed damage to her heart. The next day, after a restless and stressful night, she was found dead.
The above scenario is typical of many senior patients who are hospitalized for a simple fracture. You may ask the question, what was the cause of her death? If you get right down to it, I would venture to say that the cause was getting up on that chair and falling, which caused the hip fracture.
A great number of home accidents happen during the pre-holiday season. No matter how old mom and pop may be, they still think they can climb walls and hang on chandeliers. I would suggest that seniors heed the following suggestions if they want to enjoy the holidays outside of the hospital:
* When the doorbell or phone rings, just take your time and walk. If it’s important, the person will either wait at the door or phone you again.
* Don’t wear floppy shoes or slippers that can get caught on rugs and uneven floorboards.
* Don’t wear oversized, long robes that may get caught under your feet, causing you to trip.
* Take up all those extra throw rugs on the floor. They are nothing but foot-catchers that will cause you to trip.
* Wear shoes with flat heels and rubber soles. Make sure they fit well.
* If your medications make you feel dizzy, tell your doctor to change them. Whatever you do, don’t take them before coming downstairs.
* A little alcohol with medication may cause dizziness and you may lose your balance and fall. Be careful with that holiday toddy.
* When you rise from bed, take it easy and adjust your balance before walking.
* Make sure that your eyeglasses are properly adjusted to your changing vision.
Be sure to have nightlights on in the hall and in the bathroom in case you have to get up at night.
* Be careful walking on highly waxed floors and other slippery surfaces. If you have a cane or walker, use it.
* Don’t climb up on stools and ladders trying to do the impossible. Get those grandchildren over; they’ll help you.
I hope the above suggestions will make your holiday season happy, enjoyable and full of fun and save you from an unnecessary injury. Please take time and keep wholly.
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