Back in mid-March, I called a number published in our county's Senior News. A woman answered.
"Hi", I responded. " I am calling about the Stepping On Falls Prevention Class."
We chatted a couple of minutes. She wanted to know where I had heard about the class. She talked briefly about the program - seven weeks, one class a week, a falling assessment on the first and last classes, guest speakers. They would teach exercises to help prevent falls, and would have several guest speakers talking about medication and balance, eyesight issues, and more. The cost was reasonable - $35 for seven sessions, and I would get a workbook, too.
Then came the question.
"How old are you?"
The class was advertised for seniors 60 and over.
"62", I responded.
There was a pause at the other end - a pause that made me a little uncomfortable.
"Have you fallen yet?", she finally asked.
(For more on my interest in this class, check out this post).
Fast forward a week.
Just before St. Patrick's Day, an in law's mother in law fell in the bathtub and hit her head. It was not her first fall. This 82 year old woman, who was living independently with her husband of many years, was rushed to the ER later that day with symptoms of a head injury. Things did not go well from there.
The CDC has some sobering statistics about falling in older adults. And now, this in law's mother in law is just that - a statistic.
Governments and agencies serving senior populations are recognizing the problem, and trying to take steps. You don't have to be a senior to care about the issue. The children and grandchildren of the woman who fell are not seniors. This has impacted an entire family, a large, close knit family.
So, about the question "have you fallen?"
I told the woman yes, that I have fallen. I've fallen in my house twice in the past year, in addition to a fall while exercising on the Vestal Rail Trail (this one due to a trick ankle from an old injury) and another walk with a fall in 2011. The trick ankle didn't cause the home fall, though. It was a balance problem. I fell due to a throw rug that slid when I stepped on it. And still another time, a shoe gripped the floor in the wrong way and I started to fall, but managed to recover.
I have problems with my balance. My spouse took me to work several times this winter because it was icy and I was frightened of falling. If I wear ice treads that are sold to slip onto boots, I feel like I'm totally unbalanced. I don't know if my near falls were caused by medication (I am on several) but I have to do something now. I don't want to wait until I'm 82 and it's too late.
What I am concerned about the most, though, is that I am going to show up, and be in a class of 80 year olds. Then, everyone will look at me and think "why is she here?" Dare I call this reverse ageism, that I am not old enough to have any of the problems of a senior citizen?
In other words, is it possible in our elder society to be too young?
The first class is this Wednesday, and then I will know.
Have you taken any of these fall prevention classes? Am I right or wrong to feel self conscious about my attendance?