We should refuse to have falls. Such language implies we are old, decrepit and way past our prime even if we are active, creative and energetic seniors.Falls


Everyone falls. Babies learning to walk fall repeatedly. It’s part of the process. Kids fall from, off and over things. In the year 2016-2017, injuries from falling accounted for one third of all admission for injuries for  to the children’s hospital in my home town. Active adults also fall (over, from, off, down, etc.) The more active and adventurous the person, the more likely they are to fall.

To fall, as anyone who learnt grammar knows, is a verb, a doing word. We talk about falling leaves, falling walls and falling prices.

A fall, on the other hand, is a noun. It’s a thing that happens, with no attributable agency. When we say, ‘He had a fall,’ we imply that the poor old fellow was a helpless victim of some external event. Things happen to him, rather than he does things, now he’s old.

I can’t remember when the word ‘fall’ became a noun, but I resist it the way I also resist some other terms that have crept into the vocabulary of television presenters, such as ‘take a look’ and ‘have a listen’.

How old must a person be before they stop tripping, slipping, stumbling, tumbling, faltering and losing their footing? An old person does none of these, apparently, but they do have falls!

There can be serious consequence when an older person falls. Injuries sustained when a frail aged person falls can be horrifying. Morbidity rates that result from those injuries are alarming. We should learn, perhaps through some of the wonderful programs available, how to prevent falling.

We should make an effort to prevent ourselves from injury from falling, and also to make sure those we love are safe. Programs like Stay on your Feet, developed by the Western Australian Health Department are readily available.

I once tried to visit a friend in a rehabilitation ward in a hospital. A nurse barred my way.

‘Your friend has gone to a Stay on your Feet Program,’ she said. ‘Everyone has to attend before they are discharged. You should go and be with her.’ She looked me up and down. ‘You certainly qualify.’

How to prevent falls

  1. Old people should stay as physically and mentally active as possible. We should move around often and improve our balance and the strength our legs.
  2. We need to keep healthy, eat well and ensure we take appropriate medication. This also means not allowing ourselves to be over-dosed with even prescription medications. Pharmacists and doctors, please note.
  3. Our homes should be safe, with obvious hazards like broken tiles and unnecessary mats removed. Eyesight should be corrected. Safe footwear is essential.

Even after taking these precautions, we may still slip, stumble or trip. We also need to watch our language.

Imagine one’s children measuring time by saying, ‘That would have been around the time of mother’s first fall.’

For that reason, if for no other, I refuse, point blank, to have a fall.


12 replies on “Falls and why we should refuse to have them”

  1. I love the way you write Maureen. Your prose is smart, stylish and endlessly entertaining! (The line about the nurse looking you up and down … deadly!)

    1. You are my best (favourite!) critic, Fiona. And you are also very kind. Exactly the sort of person I’d love to be in a writing group with. Thank you!

        1. We could make it happen, Fiona. I have a shitty first draft novel waiting for some tender loving care. What about you?

    1. Hi, Rosie, thanks for your comment and the link to that great article. I don’t think I’d be brave enough to let myself be tripped, harness or not, although I can see how it works. I learned ages ago that you have to keep moving if you feel yourself falling, and that works pretty well, at least for me.

  2. I ONLY HOPE THE YOUNGER GENERATION NEVER GIVE UP SKATE BOARDING .So good for balance and of course falling .

    1. I love watching them, especially Amelia who skate-boards to ballet a couple of times a week. Now she is coaching Elizabeth, who is really much too young…oops, there goes the overprotective great grandmother again. We are so lucky to be able to learn from our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

  3. Haha! Very witty and true, Maureen. I recently had a little ‘altercation’ with a friend who called me a ‘groovy Grandma’ because I was dancing. I said I’m not a grandma. She said yes you are. She was right of course, but I said none of my children call me grandma, or nanna. I resist those words because they typecast me. And why should I be labelled as a non-typical grandma because I am dancing? Would she call me a ‘groovy teenager’ or a ‘groovy young woman’ if I were and danced? Why do newspaper headlines say things like ’65 year old grandmother mugged’?

    1. Hi, Christina, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am a proud grandmother and I delight in my family. My grandchildren and now my great grandchildren have always called me Maureen, because I chose not to go down the traditional route of other, ageist names. I’ve been the subject of several early school essays because of this eccentricity.

      My grandparent role is important as a connection to people I love, but like you I resist being labelled and stereotyped because of it.

      By the way, I love the idea of your dancing! A very talented woman.

  4. What?? This shitty first draft of a novel?? I love shitty first drafts. sorry – could not comment about falls – I am such a steady lady – don’t know what you are talking about! Ahem! Falls no – shitty first drafts – yes – know all about them.

    1. At least we are on the same page about first drafts of novels, Elizabeth B.

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