Vexations and Conundrums
By Katina Pontikes
Fall, not the season upon us, full of Walt Whitmanesque descriptions of vibrant colors and crisp air, but the kind of fall where gravity asserts itself. This topic is suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the topic du jour, the topic of the year.
First, I noticed that lots of my friends were experiencing tumbles. There was the unseen crooked sidewalk on a dark street, the step missed coming down a long flight or something as simple as an uneven floor. Some missteps resulted in minor injuries; others required surgeries due to shattered bones. Some accidents required physical rehabilitation and changes to wardrobe. For example, the first thing to go were glamour shoes, especially the type with higher heels. They were told to seek sensible shoes, usually not as pretty. Women tend to have Cinderella complexes where they collect pretty shoes, so this is not what they would consider a delightful point in their personal footwear history.
I had my own stumbles, but nothing resulting in a major event. I tend to walk too quickly, eyes forward, not down. I think this walking method was drilled into me in my younger days when I walked a few runways, as an amateur model. I don’t recommend this style of walking in one’s later years. One must take the long and the short view when moving to ascertain dangers ahead.
Recently I had a need to seek medical attention during the pandemic and a new nurse practitioner was going to interview me. Lo and behold, she asked about falls. I told her I was doing fine, hoping she would move on to a new subject. “Do you have a grab bar in your bathtub?” she casually queried, pen poised to complete her paperwork. “Why would you ask me that?” I responded. “Oh, that question should have been asked on your sixty-fifth birthday.”
I assured the nurse that I was safe in my bathtub for the time being. I failed to mention that I had devised my own unique sawhorse dismount technique which I’d developed to leave the tub. I had also just installed a gorgeous granite finish tub which would not look as pretty with a giant grab bar mounted on the side.
The next time I saw one of my good friends I mentioned this troubling medical conversation. She looked at me without hesitation and stated that she had those bars mounted throughout her home, leaving me to wonder if I was late to the grab bar party. I still resist.
My mother had a specialist come to her home to do risk assessment. My mom plans to stay in her own home as long as she is able, with assistance hired to help. However, the home must be safe. Her clipboard-carrying expert walked her house, making copious entries, and frequently muttering to herself. When she saw my mother’s pride and joy, her over-a-hundred-year-old bed, four feet off the ground, no steps to get up, she froze. She pointed to the bed and just said, “NO!” I can only imagine the mental image she had of my mom making a running jump, at eighty-eight years of age, to mount this towering structure. Now mom has a short single bed alongside the antique monster. Much safer.
I decided we would do our own version of an inspection in our home. We moved any slippery rugs and replaced them with rubber backed, non-skid types of floor coverings. I placed my heels high on a shelf and put sensible shoes on the lower shelves. We now leave lights on, without regard for saving electricity. The new concern is to prevent medical bills, far more costly than savings for operating in the dark.
Our daughter-in-law is in the lighting business. She sent us battery charged lights to mount along the wall. The lights sense movement, so that if we get up in the dark and step out of the bed, they flick on and light our path. This is so ingenious; I highly recommend them.
Now that we are more prepared, I feel ready to face the season ahead. May we all enjoy a lovely fall, complete with floating leaves and a sweet chill to the air.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com