Aging Well in the Gorge September 30th 2020


Have you ever fallen or known someone who has fallen? According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. I was one of those statistics when I missed the bottom step while taking out the recycling and broke my hip. I didn’t want to admit it because broken hips only happen to “old people” and at that time I was only 64. (And without Medicare, it wasn’t cheap!)

Since 1 in 4 older adults fall every year in the U.S., you may feel falling is just a normal part of aging. But it isn’t. Think about when you or someone you knew fell. There probably was a way the fall could have been prevented: I should have understood the side effects of my new medication, I should have had a grab bar in the shower – or I should have had my wife take out the recycling!

Since most falls are preventable, here are a few tips to reduce your risk of falling.

1.) Find a good exercise program that builds balance, strength, and flexibility. While we do lose muscle as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. During the pandemic when most group activities have been cancelled, you can find exercise programs on YouTube that you can do at home and you can still go walking. But start slowly and gradually build up. It is often asked what is the best exercise? The one you enjoy doing!

2.) Talk to your health care provider. Your annual hour-long free Medicare “Wellness” visit is the perfect time to share your history of recent falls.

3.) Your “Wellness” visit is also a good time to review your medications with your health care provider to make sure any side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. And it goes without saying, take your medications only as prescribed.

4.) Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses. Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.

5.) Keep your home safe. Over half of all falls take place at home. Fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and non-slip paint on outdoor steps.

And I would pay attention to how you get to the bathroom particularly during the night – which many of us do at least once every night. Rushing to the bathroom increases your chance of falling.

6.) Talk to your family members. They want to help you maintain your mobility and reduce your risk of falling. If you can’t yourself, they can install the grab bars or railings to make your home safe.

By remembering to take your time, pick-up your feet and to follow these six tips, you can prevent unnecessary falls that could change your life forever.

Two weeks ago I wrote that if you feel sick to call your medical provider before going to the hospital – or simply “Call, Don’t Go”, But I was reminded by Stephanie Bowen, MCMC’s Public Information Officer and Community Outreach Coordinator, that “Call, Don’t Go” is correct UNLESS you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms. Then you should go directly to the Emergency Room.

The television show that revolved around a large, blended family with six children and considered one of the last of the old-style family sitcoms was the Brady Bunch. I received correct answers from Rhonda Spies, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Sandy Haechrel, Dave Lutgens, Rose Schulz, Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Cheri Brent, Betsy Ayers, Alan Winans and Elaine Lee this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

This songwriter, activist, actor and singer was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Trinidadian Caribbean musical style including his breakthrough album Calypso (1956) – the first million-selling LP by a single artist. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who is the Jamaican-American known for his recording of “The Banana Boat Song” with its signature lyric “Day-O”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with the 1965 Grammy Award-winning album he recorded with Miriam Makeba.

Well, it’s been another week, when every night I think it’s later than it really is.

Until we meet again, the question is always easy once you know the answer.

“I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.” Joan Rivers

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