Falling Into Place


By Neil Offen

As we get older, there are many challenges we have to deal with, including fading eyesight, failing memory and an inability to break dance. Then there is the risk of falling.

Like many people my age, I have had some experience with falling. I have fallen walking down steps, I also have fallen walking up steps. I have even fallen on steps when they are not moving in either direction.

Falling, of course, can be serious business when you get to a certain age. It can lead to bad bruises, a broken hip or, at the very least, people stepping over you when they are hurrying to catch the 5:06 to Greenwich. As we are constantly reminded, in 87 percent of cases in people 55 and over, falls are the No. 1 cause of people landing on the floor. Even worse, the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. By the age of 80, more than half of all seniors fall annually, usually sometime in December if they want to beat the deadline.

Falls are also that age group’s leading cause of injury and the second-leading cause of extreme embarrassment, just behind arriving too late for restaurants’ early-bird specials. And a fall can be particularly embarrassing when it happens if you are just brushing your teeth, sleeping, brushing your teeth while sleeping, or when you are bragging to your children about what great shape you are in.

Falling is generally a question of balance. My problem is, I haven’t any. When I stand up too quickly after sitting for too long on the couch, I frequently lose my balance. If I try to find it by looking down, I get light-headed and trip over the couch. When I do find it, I still trip over the couch. My balance is so limited I cannot stand on one foot while trying to put my other foot into my pants. Sometimes I reverse it and try the first foot second. Still no good. So I am also being forced to consider the possibility of sitting down while putting on my pants or, instead, wearing kilts.

Most falls, of course, occur in the home, where we are more likely to fall because we haven’t been out of the house for over a year. But some falls occur outside, in public places. Remember not to go to those places.

There are, of course, ways to prevent falls. For one thing, don’t stand up if you are sitting on the couch. Remain where you are and consider eating breakfast there. Watch movies. Go for a walk while on the couch. Play chess. Tour the Eiffel Tower.

For another, be extremely careful near icy surfaces. Never walk in your freezer, even if you think it is a walk-in freezer.

And always, if you are walking, on any surface, make sure to always walk alongside someone strong and sturdy, well-balanced and responsible. I recommend Tom Hanks. Ask him about that scene in “Big” with him walking on the piano and how come he didn’t fall, particularly during the arpeggios.

It might take your mind off falling or off the fact you only have one pants leg on.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column will appear twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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3 Comments on "Falling Into Place"

  1. I heard as you describe that most serious injuries happen within a mile of the home mostly due to falling so I took action. I moved!

  2. Neil, I enjoy your humor! Don’t stop writing! Ever! Unless Tom Hanks truly comes by.Then call me! Great article!

  3. Kathleen Mohar | April 17, 2021 at 6:34 pm | Reply

    Thanks for letting Neil out of the box again! I’ve missed his weird humor!

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