From “Falling In Love” to falling…out of Life
The recent two-part series on falls as a heightened risk of active aging in the New York Times has some important information for us Seniors. And as Charlottesville takes on revisions to its 2020 plan, we might want to analyse these two articles for what we can learn to apply in that planning.
As I read the articles, I thought about falls I’ve taken in my life. From falling off my bicycle as a 5-year old, to falling when skiing, I’ve always accepted falls as something that happen when you don’t have a complete set of skills (as in learning to ride a bicycle), or when you take more risks than you should (as in skiing). But as we age, and our skill sets change, those are still the reasons we fall. And the consequences are far more severe than a skinned knee or a broken ski.
ACAC at Albemarle Square is prepared for me and others who want to remain active as we age. Every single time I head down the steps into the group training area (formerly half of the the basketball court), my eyes catch the glaring white tape that marks the transition from a dark carpet to black stairs. I automatically stop and look again before I head down those stairs. Had tape, or some other form of contrast like that been in place in an office building, or even on the stairs of my front stoop, perhaps I wouldn’t have fallen and broken my foot, or fallen and broken two fingers, respectively. What a simple solution for those transitional areas where falls tend to occur!
What if the concrete bumpers in parking lots were painted a different color? If changes in pavement levels, where sidewalks have moved with the heat or the cold were marked with contrasting color paint prior to repair? What if public restroom toilets had seats in colors that contrasted with the rest of the toilet? What if stores added floor lighting?
We all want to live to the best of our ability. And as it was when we were young and reckless, so it is when we are older and more fearful: we must recognize that our skill sets diminish gradually, and that what we used to do without thinking now requires careful planning. It’s a small price to pay for making the most of our lives.
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