(MyFallRisk) We’ve been reflecting on former President Jimmy Carter’s recent fall. We think it’s fair to point out that, while it was all handled with great humor and élan by the president’s press representatives and reported by the media accordingly, most seniors who fall do not have a 24/7 security force, free and easy access to an air ambulance, priority, state-of-the-art medical care on 24-hour standby or hundreds of millions of Americans caring about and rooting for a speedy and complete recovery.
Rather than serving as the loud and achingly necessary wake-up call that America (and the world) needs with regard to the epidemic of senior falls, it was no more than a throw-away punchline. Our hope is that, post recovery, President Carter will dedicate himself to raising awareness of this ‘elephant in the room’ that the medical community is, in general, ill-equipped to appropriately assess—much less treat—and where those most at risk keep family and physician in the dark for fear of losing their independence or burdening their loved ones.
Too few of us, either medical professionals or patients, are aware that falls in our senior population are not inevitable. That much can be done to lower the risk of senior falls, from custom ankle braces clinically proven to improve balance and reduce fear of falling, to physical and occupational therapy, to appropriate footwear, annual vision and hearing exams and more.
We are overjoyed for President Carter that his fall is unlikely to have either near or long-term negative impacts on his life and lifestyle, but his experience is exceedingly rare. Many seniors who fall will fall again and again until a catastrophic tumble lands them in an emergency room or worse.