Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
It’s been so long since my last fall that I don’t even recall when it was, but my streak ended yesterday, requiring I reset my “days without a fall” clock just as I was turning back all of our clocks to reflect the temporary end of daylight savings time.
My husband, Tony, and I had just finished eating lunch in the city and were walking the two blocks back to where he had parked our car when I tripped over a raised concrete frame around a giant hole seemingly meant for a tree. Why would someone put such an obstacle in the middle of the sidewalk, and how is it that I didn’t see it? If it were any bigger, it would be classified as a sink hole.
Mine was no Parkinson’s fall, but rather a stupidity fall, the kind of fall that can and does happen to anyone who gets distracted and forgets to look at the ground and anticipate where their feet are going.
My high-tech rollator sacrificed a bit of itself to save me from serious injury, breaking my fall as I walked into and flew over it, the palms of my hands absorbing the impact. “Twenty somethings” rushed to my aid from every direction and gingerly helped Tony lift me up from the ground. A cursory check revealed not even a scrape on me. I attribute this to my having at least some good luck and strong bones, and staying with a daily exercise regimen for almost two decades. After thanking everyone for their help, we climbed into our car to begin the shopping excursion we had originally set out on. It takes a lot more than a fall to interfere with my shopping.
Falls and their resulting injuries are among the biggest health threats facing older Americans, especially those who have Parkinson’s, as we have twice the risk of falling as our peers who do not have this condition. The frequency of falls and injuries appears related more to a person’s health than anything else, including gender and age. Poor vision, weak leg muscles and medications that compromise balance all increase the risk for falling. Ask your doctors about lowering the dosages of or eliminating these medications entirely.
To reduce your risk of falling, have a physical therapist assess your gait, balance and fall risk, and choose the assistive mobility device (i.e. canes, walkers, rollators) that provides the additional stability to meet your unique needs. After purchase, bring your device to your therapist to check the fit and train you to use it properly and safely. When using a rollator walker, for example:
The thing I am most thankful for is that I heeded my physical therapist’s caution not to return to using my beloved walking sticks. They don’t provide nearly enough stability for me and I surely would not have fared as well in my latest fall.