My flight from Milano to Dulles, long but uneventful, touched down and I powered on my cell phone. I had left my husband in the care of an amazing group of caregivers while I took a short trip to Italy. I anxiously checked for text messages. None. Yes. That’s good. All is well.
Casually, I opened my email to scan the notes in my inbox. Somewhat jetlagged, I scrolled down the long list of mail and stopped a one from a friend with a single word subject line: “John” Feeling uneasy, I clicked it open.
My heart sank. The message was brief. She and John had been out for dinner celebrating their anniversary and John fell. He suffered a serious injury and died. John was elderly and becoming somewhat frail, but dying from a fall? The tragic loss shook me to my core. I am still trying to process it.
I know about falls. My husband has had a few—some requiring stitches. My mother fell and broke her hip—after rehab she is fine. A friend slipped on the steps—and got up to brush herself off with no injury. A fellow choir member missed a step coming out of rehearsal—and following a short hospital stay she is back at it.
Yet, the national statistics are arresting. One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year, every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in emergency for a fall, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall (National Council on Aging).
Can we prevent falls? Some of them, yes. One of the keys to avoiding a fall is to do physical exercise. Check out the resources provided by Go4Life, provided by the National Institute on Aging, for tips on how to stay active and be safe.