Recently, a former boss hobbled into church wearing a knee brace and leaning on a cane. Old age catching up? Did he fall? Knee surgery? No. Eighteen holes of golf the day before was his smiling answer.  

It’s amazing the goals we can reach when we have an incentive. It’s all a matter of attitude. How many of us have such a positive attitude about the passing years? It’s not “old age ain’t for sissies” or “you pay (heck) getting old.” Much better is “as long as I can put one foot in front of another, I’ll be OK.” “Bad things happen to good people, but one has to move on.”

A friend residing in assisted living quarters exercises daily inside or outside the facility with his walker in tow. His only complaints about the living arrangements are that there are more activities for women and no one plays cribbage. On that particular day, he was settling for a bus trip to Target with “the girls.” At least it would get him “out of the house.”

We may hear someone say “bad things happen to good people,” but that doesn’t have to be permanent cause for worry. Even accidents or bad events can lead to new friendships and activities.

Much of the comedy in early movies involved slapstick pratfalls sending audiences into howls of laughter. It’s no laughing matter when, in spite of care taken, a fall happens suddenly and unexpectedly. Many of our parents’ generation feared breaking a hip, which could mean weeks or months of inactivity that seemed to lead to a gradual decline. There are exercises to improve balance, but eventually a cane or other assistive device may be necessary.

Health care has advanced greatly to the point where time spent in a hospital can include basic rehab to ensure safety on discharge after a fall. Nurses and physical therapists visit people in their familiar surroundings, providing continuing health care at home, omitting the necessity for patients themselves to travel while recuperating. In-home care offers a more healing atmosphere in familiar surroundings.    

Many falls can be prevented with constant awareness. It’s often when we let down our guard or want to hurry that a mishap occurs.

Moving more slowly, removing obstacles in the walk path outside and inside the house and being more aware of surroundings can help prevent that sudden tumble.

On the second day of a recent vacation city tour, a relative waiting at a crosswalk and watching a nearby bike race, tumbled off a curb, probably the busiest corner in the large city that day. A policeman directing traffic immediately stopped cars and called for EMTs who happened to be stationed a block away in readiness for a possible biking accident.

In order to take the closest route to treatment, the rescuers had to momentarily stop the bike race – an alternate route would have required a six-block detour. The bike racers weren’t too happy, but once the paramedics passed, the race resumed.

Medical personnel found there were no broken bones or serious injuries and no hospitalization was required. Bandages were applied to a half-dozen bloody but not deep scrapes. Our small group nixed the museum visit but opted for a relaxing bus tour of the city before returning to overnight accommodations.

The experience was a lesson in being aware of surroundings, especially steps and walking spaces. You might bring a cane or walking stick to assure steadiness and carry a small first aid kit. It also was a reminder to check on personal health/accident insurance coverage. The paramedics cautioned us a charge of $800 would be made on even entering the Emergency Room and there would be probably as much or more in additional charges. They gave us the impression we could handle the follow up on our own with daily care.

Later in the trip, we were more aware of the many people with canes or in wheelchairs. They took their time to move about and did not hurry. It’s no wonder that senior travel tours are so popular. Accommodations are made to adjust to physical limits and there is a knowledgeable person in charge prepared to deal with unexpected difficulties.

Luckily, the remainder of the vacation was great – even for the “fall guy.”

To paraphrase Mark, 14,38, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

(King, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)