No. 1234 -- ARE YOU A FALL RISK?

No. 1234



As a general rule, we don’t get too excited about something bad or negative until it hits close to home. This happened to me just recently, and it is so important that I want to share it with you in the hopes it will help you or someone you love.
I have a dear friend by the name of Dr. C. Dennis Schick, who was director of the Arkansas Press Association for 25 years. Dennis has been retired for several years and he has helped me in so many ways, including editing a couple of my books without charging me anything for his talent and time. One of the things I have tried to do to reciprocate is take him out to lunch from time to time. We both like barbecue, and there is a great restaurant near his home where we enjoy the food and the fellowship.
I called him a few weeks ago, and we set a day and time when we could get together. When I got to his house, his sweet wife Jan called me aside and told me that Dennis had fallen a couple of times recently. He had not broken any bones but he was moving slower, and with the use of a cane could make it pretty well. It hurt me to see him in this condition, and I told him that I had been fortunate to have not suffered a similar fate. While I have been concerned about this for both my wife Janis and me for some time now, we just do our best to be careful and trust the Lord to look out for us.
Over lunch while Dennis and I were visiting, he showed me something that I had never seen before. It was a little arm bracelet with the words “Fall Risk” stamped on it, obviously a good reminder and a good thing to have. As a result of this experience, I decided to do this column about it, because it might help someone else avoid a similar fate. When I went to the Internet to do some research I learned just how far behind the times that I have been. One of the problems, and a good one to have, is that we are living much longer. Due to the fact that I have not been able to exercise as much as I need to, I noted that my steps are not nearly as steady and sure as they once were, again a symptom of age, now over 81 years.
Here are some of the things I have learned that may be of interest to you or someone you love. Every 11 seconds in the U.S., an older adult ends up in the emergency room due to a fall. “It’s the leading cause of accidental death in the elderly,” says Dr. Cathleen Colon-Emeric, chief of geriatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. Falls can result in a variety of injuries, including hip fractures and head trauma – which can have lasting consequences. “There is such a high risk of dying during the first year after a hip fracture,” says Dr. Leah Witt, a geriatrician and pulmonologist who is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Another thing I learned from my research is to watch out for medical side effects. Some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can affect balance. For instance, diuretics may lower blood pressure too much and lead to dizziness on standing. Some allergy drugs, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and generic), may cause dizziness and sleepiness. Well, there is so much more – and if you have the need, I encourage you to do some research on your own. To be sure, “falls” are bad news, and my prayer is we can take steps to avoid them. For all of us in the older generation, it should always be “steady as she goes.” God bless, Jim.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)