The tables turned for me last Thursday, when Gloria, a lovely older lady I know from the Friendship Center came to my rescue to help me across the street.
In a hurry to grab a sandwich for lunch, my foot slipped just outside the restaurant and I suddenly found myself flying into the air, coming down hard enough to knock the wind out of me and leave me feeling shaky. I lay on the pavement a few moments, catching my breath, and trying to assess the damage. One foot had stayed in the direction my shoe was pointing, while my body fell the opposite way.
Feeling a little woozy, I decided to stay put a little longer. The waitress from the restaurant came out and replaced the coke that was seeping out on the sidewalk next to me and re-bagged my sandwich, again asking if I was okay. Yes, I decided, I was okay. I stood up, and to my surprise, Gloria took my hand, and said “I’m going to walk you back across the street to the Friendship Center to make sure you’re okay.” All of about 90 pounds and probably about two decades older than I am, she became my hero in that instant.
I knew her as a singer and dancer with Sarasota Senior Theatre, a vibrant lady with a sparkle in her eye, always in the middle of whatever activity was going on. I had taken her photo numerous times for publicity for the theatre. When she slipped her arm through mine and helped me across the street I felt appreciation and gratitude for her kindness. I understood how much a helping hand means when you are hurting.
I don’t really quite consider myself a candidate for Falls Prevention. Generally pretty active, I enjoy hiking and walking and water aerobics. I don’t have vertigo. And I’m just an inkling past 60, which still sounds like it’s a little too old for me to be. But after a visit to Urgent Care to learn my foot was, indeed fractured, I’m re-thinking the idea.
National Falls Awareness Prevention Day is traditionally the first day of Fall, and will be the focus of activities at The Friendship Center in Sarasota on Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. – noon, and I intend to be there and pay attention. Falls Prevention is not necessarily an occasion for “oldsters” I’m beginning to re-think the need to be aware of what a fall can mean.
After trying a cane, and crutches both of which are awkward and clumsy, I’ve found a knee scooter that makes getting around easier. But not without experiencing the frustration that comes when you just can’t do what you want to do because your body won’t let you, even when you have a list of things to do a mile long.
I’m feeling a little like a boomer poster child for falls prevention. In fact, I have every intention to attend Falls Prevention Awareness Day to learn what I can do now, so this doesn’t happen again. It’s been a wake-up call. I’ve learned that roles can be reversed in a moment when it comes to age. That wonderful lady who helped me across the street showed me “people helping people” works both ways. I also learned that you don’t have to be old or frail to fall…it can happen to anyone. Even me.
About Peg Palmer
Peg Palmer is director of communications and public education for the Friendship Centers. She has been with Senior Friendship Centers since 1996, and is editor of Prime Times, published by the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
Photo Credit: © rudybaby - Fotolia.com