Don’t fall down…

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There was been a recent article in the NY Times about how bad it is to fall, especially as you get older. I have fallen down myself and can attest to the fact that falling down can be serious. People die from falling down!

My Mom has fallen lately. She can’t get up from the floor by herself which makes falling down even harder to deal with. We have had to call the paramedics in the past and they are remarkably nice and efficient when it comes to helping someone stand up.

A few weeks ago she slipped and fell in her bedroom and, thankfully, was only sore for a week or so. Nothing fractured, no concussion. None of us was happy about the fall but Sherry, her home health nurse, came by at just the right time and helped mom up off the floor. And Sherry taught me how to help mom up on my own which is a good thing to know.

FYI: Here’s how: The fallen person needs to be able to stand for this to work. You face the person on the floor. You both bear-hug. The strong person uses her legs to lift the fallen person to a standing position. It requires upper body strength and balance, and it’s nice to have a helper on the back of the fallen person.

Yesterday I took Mom to the library. She usually goes with Carla but she was out of books and the weather was nice so we decided to go. Everything was great until she tried, with her walker, to navigate over an uneven spot. I was in just the wrong place, trying to position the walker, and she fell backwards… in slow motion. Onto the asphalt. I don’t know how she did it, but she sort of rolled into the fall and, while she sort of hit her head, she didn’t really smack it. She has a small bruise on one elbow and nothing hurts. Trust me when I tell you that this was a miracle.

This is the first time that mom has fallen in public. I was amazed that, in an instant, 4 women were right there to help. It turned out that one woman had been driving by, saw the fall, stopped her car, and ran to help. And these ladies did help! Mom assured us all that she wasn’t broken or have a concussion. I did the bear hug thing with other women behind and beside to help, and it worked.

Darned if Mom didn’t, after getting her bearings, decide that she was still going to go into the library to get her books. That woman is a determined sort :-).

Sherry had suggested a week or so ago that it might be good to have a transport wheelchair. Mom liked the idea and it was on the list of things to do. It moved to the top of the list and now this one is sitting in her garage. I got it at Breath of Life in Sherman, but you can find them lots of places. It’s light but sturdy, and rolls really well with Mom in it. It folds up and fits in the car.

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I don’t know if Mom would have been as happy to have this wheelchair before her fall, but now she knows that this actually makes her more mobile, not less mobile. We can take her more places and, as anyone who knows her will tell you, Mom really likes going places :-).

This post is for those of you who, like me, may not have thought about a transport wheelchair. Ours was $119 plus tax, much cheaper than I would have thought.

17 thoughts on “Don’t fall down…

  1. Becky, I’m so sorry you and your mom are going through this. I used to do in-home elder care, and can relate to the fear of having a loved one fall. What a blessing you are to your mom, making sure that she gets out, has fun, and, just as important, that she’s safe!

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  2. So sorry to hear about your mom,s falling problems…My mom lived with us for 7 years with advanced Alzheimers…I could usually help her up…but one night I found her sleeping in the hallway…She couldn’t help me when I tried to pick her up…I had to call 911 at 3 in the morning..They took her to the ER to check her out…It was the longest 18 hours of my life…She wouldn’t stop trying to get up and she also kept trying to take out her IV,s out…After finally being admitted to the hospital…I ended up begging the nurses who were between shifts to help me with her as I couldn’t fight with her anymore….She never came home with us…The doctor convinced me to give the responsibiitly of her care to professionals…I was able to find a wonderful Phillipino couple who had a group home where they took care of only 2 patients at a time…She passed away 13 months later…At 68 years old I find myself having to be really careful…I have done more face plants recently..On my way to Houston last month ..I fell in the airport..I now have a yellow knee and shin bone…Crawling around on the floor trying to cut out a santa costume was almost impossible with a bruised knee..It is scary to be only 68 years old and to find yourself contemplating every step…I am hoping that losing some weight and maybe doing some weigth training on my core muscles will help me with balance ..It is great that your mom still likes to get out and go to the library…Good Luck…Toni Thompson

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    • HI Toni:

      I’m not sure if I could live with mom with Alzheimers and it is my sincere hope that I don’t have to find out if I’m up to it. I applaud you, and all the other care givers out there.

      I would absolutely encourage you to do some core training, maybe some light weight training, and definitely some balance exercises. I’ve been taking pilates classes for years and it has helped me more than anything else. If you are not exercising now, do ask your doctor what’s safe to do and do spend the money on a trainer, if only for a short time. Exercising with good form is important.

      And, I might add, there’s no time like the present to start. No need to wait for the new year. Just make up your mind and do it—it can be a present to yourself. Good luck,

      Becky

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      • I started Curves five months ago and while there have been no leaping buildings in a single bound, I do notice my balance is better. It does not take long and I do go each day they are open. I am ready to up my repeats as I don’t see other improvement at this time. START it is all good.

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  3. It was great toread this post. We have had mom use a similare wheelchair for most of our longer shopping trips. She uses a walker in her apartment and for shorter trips to doctor’s appts. It is not an easy time of life for people this age. I guess we’ll all be there sometime.

    Carolyn

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  4. Thank you for your post. This type of chair is so readily available, I recently saw one for sale in the medical supplies of a WalMart. So much more secure for getting around.

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  5. I’m glad they are making affordable and light weight chairs. The one we had with my mom was a chore to get in and out of the car – and I felt that it weighed a ton! Treasure these last years because before you know it she will be gone. Mom left us Feb 8th and since then it seems all I want to do is talk to her – especially now, to tell her that I’m going to be a grandma which is something I was told (by my children) wasn’t ever going to happen. I guess you really should never say never! God bless you both!

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  6. My mom, too, started falling a few years ago. Finally she fell and broke her hip (age 86), probably was on the floor alone for several hours until her aide came to fix her breakfast, and, after the surgery to repair the hip, she had to go to a nursing home. I know it is best for her – in fact, I think she’s better today than she was a few years back. Healthier because someone is making her eat 3x a day and she has the stimulus of others instead of being alone all the time. But it’s hard to put your mom in a home. Neither my brother or I can take care of her. I have back problems. If she fell, we’d both be in trouble. So I know it’s best… but it’s still hard. I got a cool portable plaid wheelchair for her on Amazon. Everyone at the nursing home comments on it. I wanted the blue one (her favorite color) but they only had black and I needed it so black it is. But it works great! Easy to fold up, sturdy, reliable. $155. Stands out in the crowd. LOL…
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VWK2FI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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  7. Ah,this brings back memories. The paramedics refer to them as “frequent flyers”. My mother and dad both went through the falling stage. My dad went first and then my mother was alone in the house. I brought in home health care for more and more hours as time passed and she went from the walker to the wheel chair, and then finally became bed-ridden. One time she got up at night and fell and laid in the floor all night. The nurse found her in the morning. I charged out there with the intent of brining her home with me, by George! When I got there she let me know, in her soft spoken way, that she had no intention of going. She was not dissuaded by any amount of reason. I realized that I would have had to pick her up and take her probably kicking and fighting. To fast forward, I eventually got her in a reputable assisted living center. Here, she began to decline mentally. They are really understaffed and look upon the patients individual needs as an intrusions to their routine. They started wanting to medicate my mother and then wanted to move her into a dementia ward at twice the monthly rate. When asked what the difference in care was…more staff per patient?….I was told they had a lock on the front door and the staff was more use to people like my mother… Fast forward….I found a group home near me…in Parker, Texas. It was in a brick home in a nice neighborhood, run by a Kenyan couple, only four residents. My mother thrived in this loving, caring environment…no longer needed medication…. I was so blessed to have found them. This was not just a job to them, it was their ministry. My mother is gone now. I write this long missive because I so remember what you are going through and will be facing. Your mother is blessed to have such a caring daughter and you will always cherish the time you spend with her. If you are ever interested in finding out more about group homes there is a website called A Place For Mom. They have a newsletter with lots of information i n it and can actually help you find what is available in your area. I can also put you in touch with the Kenyan group. I know they have a home in McKinney…don’t know about Sherman. I would be happy to talk more in depth with you about this. My email is martya48@swbell.net. Cherish your journey, Marty A

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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    • HI Marty:

      Thank you so much for writing! I will definitely keep your name and email in case we need it.

      Luckily mom isn’t showing signs of dementia. She manages pretty well in her house (just 4 houses down from us!) and she does love being there. As long as she doesn’t fall down.

      We have talked candidly about what could come next, if the time comes when she can’t stay at home. We’ve both agreed that it would be nice, when our respective times come, to just not wake up one day. That’s the plan, morbid though it may sound. We both know it’s not likely to be that easy and when the time comes, I hope we can find a very good place for mom to move to. A group home sounds good.

      Again, thank you for sharing the information,

      Becky

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  8. Thank you for this post. Many of us are either helping a parent or getting to this stage ourselves. I did take a program called “A Matter of Balance” offered by many hospitals and eldercare offices to help make one’s home and environment somewhat fall-safe and teach balance and strength exercises. It’s a great program for anyone.

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  9. How timely!! I found that exact chair in a resale shop last summer — bought it to save until it was going to be needed – – – needed now!!!
    The world keeps turning – – We have to go with the flo , , , , ,

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  10. Wow–all these stories are making me feel so lucky! My 91 year old mother (92 in Jan.), is still doing great! I talked her into selling her house in Tucson & moving to CO to be near me just over a year ago. She had fallen in her yard the previous spring & had trouble getting up, but managed to crawl across the rocks & over to the grass & then could get up. Her knee was bruised & still seems like it is easily re-injured even though she hasn’t fallen again. The move was pretty difficult because she sold her house at the same time we had the flood in Boulder. We did manage to find her a nice apartment about 15 minutes from our house, but I was up to my eyeballs trying to deal with our flooded basement, so didn’t feel that I could fly on out to help her with deciding what to do with her belongings. A year later, I think she is adjusting to her new surroundings. Sometimes I wish I’d let her stay another year in AZ, but it is worrisome when they live far away & have no close relatives nearby!

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    • Yes, you are lucky that she is doing so well!

      Mom every now and then gets nostalgic for OKC, but when I remind her that if she were there she would rarely see me, Steve, the grand and great-grand kids, she gets over it. I also point out that if she ends up needing more care (in ‘the home’) it’s better to be where people visit her. I think it would have been a lot harder to move her closer if she was going into a nursing home.

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  11. This post really tugged at me today. My cute father-in-law has had several falls over the last year. They were quite serious and he was hospitalized twice with significant injuries. He has one bad knee and diabetes that has really taken it’s toll on his legs. He struggles to balance when he tries to stand and so far we aren’t having success convincing him to use his walker though he does have a wheel chair he uses when he leaves the house. My husband and his siblings have now realized that it is necessary for them and him to have someone there during the times they cannot be there. It has been really hard for him to lose so much of his independance but he is finally admitting that he needs help so that he can continue to live in his home, where he is close to all of his children and grandchildren. Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences with your sweet Mom with us, it’s a reminder of how important being there for our parents is.

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  12. Thank you, Becky, for an informative post which generated excellent comments. My 91-year old mother moves very slowly with her walker because she has the fear of falling. So glad your mother recovered from her fall and stayed determined to keep going.

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