When I read this helpful article from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York about steps you can take to avoid falling, I thought immediately about my patients who sometimes arrive as emergencies to my office with bloodied noses and bruised eyelids. And I thought about my father. And as thorough as the article was, it missed two critical points.
Yes, as the article says, it's critical to get your eyes examined regularly to maintain good vision. But as a regular reader of my articles, you're already doing that, and taking your eye vitamins daily (twice daily if you're taking an AREDS2 supplement). But what the article missed is that many people trip when the ground beneath their feet is uneven. Stepping onto or off a curb is a major culprit. And why don't they see the uneven ground? Because they are wearing their bifocals, which blur the image below beyond two feet away. Bifocals are SOOOOO convenient. But if you're not 100% steady on your feet, you need to speak with your optician about getting distance-only "walking glasses," or, if your distance vision is clear enough without glasses, ditch the glasses when you're walking anywhere unfamiliar.
My father was a different story. When I visited him at my childhood Buffalo home, I would hear him tumbling hard to the floor in our kitchen. No matter how many times he fell, he refused to use any supporting devices. Having Parkinsonism made it worse. But mostly, it was damn pride. I see the same behavior in my own patients. They're at risk of falling when they walk, but having an assistive device makes them appear feeble, so they refuse to use anything, at risk to their bodies. And make no mistake, a broken hip can be a sentence to a downhill course. Even worse can be a strike of the head, especially if you're on anticoagulants. If you don't have a loved one's arm to grab, use a well-fitted cane. When a cane isn't enough, use a two-handed walker. When even that isn't safe, it's time for a wheelchair. None of us want to go in that direction. We all want eternal vigor, and we don't want to cave in to becoming less than we were. It's hard medicine, I'm advocating, I know. But the trauma your body endures when falling can be severe, and worse. Please, stay safe.