Staying active without fear of falling.
The danger of falling increases substantially with age. This is especially true in developed countries where aging populations tend toward comfortable, inactive lifestyles.
How to Avoid Falling is a practical, non-technical guide to minimizing the occurrence of falls as well as their devastating effects.
The book recommends taking stock of one's current level of health, physical abilities, ongoing medical concerns and current medication. It covers the risk factors of falling, how to alleviate them, as well as some general practices for living a healthy life.
Exercise is key, especially walking every day. There are fitness and balance exercises that will improve health and a sense of well-being.
Fall-proofing a home is also covered, as is being aware of the best way to respond to hazardous situations such as icy or slippery conditions.
A final section describes what to do after a fall starting with how to safely get up again, regaining confidence, as well as how to choose canes and walkers.
Eric Fredrikson gives accident avoidance courses for hospital and corporate clients.
I personally learned about unintentional falling the hard way. One day, when I was in a rush, I slipped on some ice at the top of the cement stairs that led down to my condo's parking garage. I landed on my left side and broke a rib. I was 68 years old when this happened. I am sure my injuries would have been far more severe had I not been in good physical condition.
I have been regularly walking and exercising since I was in my mid-40s. When I slipped that day, I was able to break the force of the fall by hanging on to the handrail, and I kept my head up so it didn't hit a step. Nevertheless, my beautiful 180-degree maneuver taught me two things: First, the old saying that it only hurts when you laugh is true; and second, don't rush when you are going up or down stairs, especially if they are made of cement.
During the last five years I have given accident-avoidance courses and presentations on achieving good health through regular, appropriate exercise and I have been involved in various programs and organizations concerned with successful aging strategies. I participated in the Sunnybrook Medical Centre's Balance Program (associated with the Osteoporosis Society of Canada and the Asthma Society of Canada), and have given an accident-avoidance course for the Home Safe Home program.
I have presented my "Stay Fit, Fun and Flexible Let's Not Fall" program at many malls, seniors' residences and other venues. Well-known companies, including The Bay, Zellers, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sears, Canadian Tire and Oxford Shopping Centres, have used my presentations and handbooks in their marketing and promotional campaigns.
I am pleased to say that my programs have been very well received by seniors and the media. I have been featured in a Toronto Star article and appeared on City-TV's Breakfast Television, as well as on CTV and CBC.
I have already written two handbooks. One of them, Use It or Lose It, is about the value of regular, appropriate physical activity for ongoing health. The other handbook, It's No Fun Falling, is on how to avoid unintentional falls. In writing this second book, I knew that a very important part of it would need to be devoted to the basics of fall prevention. However, I also knew from experience that the personal injuries and possible loss of independence caused by an unintentional fall really called for a more complete book that could delve further into related subjects.
This book has been divided into four sections. In Part I: Health, you will be guided through the process of taking stock of your current level of health -- your physical abilities, diet, ongoing medical concerns and any medications you are taking. You will learn about the risk factors for falling, and how to alleviate them.
Part II: Active Living, emphasizes the importance of exercise. You will be introduced to one of the simplest and least expensive physical activities around -- walking. This section also includes clearly illustrated fitness and balance exercises that will improve your health and sense of well-being.
In Part III: How to Avoid Falling, you will learn how falls can be prevented. The emphasis here is on techniques that will reduce the likelihood of a fall, such as fall-proofing your home and being aware of the best ways to respond to risky situations where a fall is possible. As an unintentional fall is not completely unavoidable, however, this section also describes techniques that will minimize injury during a fall.
Finally, Part IV: After a Fall, covers immediate responses, like how to safely get up again if you've fallen, as well as issues like fear of falling and regaining confidence. It also offers advice on how to choose assistive devices, such as canes and walkers, and how to modify your home during the recovery period.
As you read through this book, I hope you will remember that aging is a natural process that we all undergo. There is no magic pill, operation or exercise that will stop the hands of time. However, aging doesn't necessarily have to result in a loss of independence or reduced enjoyment of life. It is never too late to start making changes for the better.
Part I: Health
Part II: Active Living
Part III: How to Avoid Falling
Part IV: After a Fall