I have read many articles about preventing falls in the aging population. In fact, I even wrote one myself. Keep the floors clear of clutter; wipe up spills immediately; install hand rails where appropriate; position furniture so that elders can easily navigate through the house, avoid the use of throw rugs.
All of these are wonderful suggestions…………but falls still happen. Why?
It’s because that for all the preparation we do and all of the safety measures we take, there are certain things that can’t be changed. We cannot get rid of the dementia, the frailty, the failure of the legs to do their job and in my particular case, the stubborness of my father. We cannot take away “free will”.
I haven’t exactly figured out if my father forgets that he can’t walk or if he’s just determined that he will walk. Either way, he tries….and fails.
Our family has always joked that he was an accident waiting to happen (and often one did). If I came home from school and found no Dad home when there should have been one, I began looking for blood droplets………..and called the local ER when I found them. “Yes, he’s here. We’re just stitching him up and he’ll be on his way.” (That was before HIIPA laws, of course.)
Anyway, last night, he fell again. As I was clearing dinner dishes, he got up from the table and walked over to the thermostat without his walker and BOOM….down he went. That was the third fall of the day and this time he hit his head – hard enough to cause a small amount of bleeding. (But as I said, we’re used to blood droplets around him.)
I talked to his physician and we decided he was stable enough to remain at home.
But…..It’s getting to the point where I can’t pick him up anymore. His legs don’t work well enough to help him. It’s also getting to the point where I’m getting angry at him for being so irresponsible. I literally have to watch his every move. He constantly tells me “Oh, Shelley, I am NOT an invalid.” Um, yes, Dad………..you are. And you are an invalid who is causing me a great deal of emotional fatigue from following you around the house wondering where you’re going to fall next. (No, I didn’t say that, just thought it.)
So today Dad is being admitted to an assisted living facility for 48 hours of “respite care” ……….because I know my limits. He has never been admitted to an assisted living facility before; he’s never even seen one. My hope is that they will impart to him the importance of using his walker and that I will get some rest.
I will also have to consider whether I can continue to care for him at home without one or both of us becoming seriously injured…..because sadly, all falls cannot be prevented.
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