That was the first thing the government asked on my Wellness Check Questionnaire. All I could do was laugh. Yes, I am afraid of falling. I have been afraid of falling since I was 10 years old. I don't like to bleed. I don't like to break things. I don't like wearing bandaids and feeling sore. Yes, I am afraid of falling.
I've just come home from visiting a friend who fell. She doesn't remember the incident; she found herself lying on the tile floor in her casita one evening after dinner. She doesn't know how she got there. She saw the Pull Here For Help chain and pulled. That summoned the House Manager who summoned the EMTs who transported her to the Emergency Room. She spent nearly 24 hours in the ER before being transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson.
This is the face of modern medicine. They patched up the bruises and bumps they could see, they stitched what needed stitching and wrapped what needed wrapping, but they never found a room for her. She needed rehabilitation not medicine, they determined, and, once they found a place which would accept her peculiar combination of insurance and injuries, she was off.
With her arm in a sling and her feet not yet able to hold her weight, she's quite a site to behold. She is more black and blue than I thought possible. And she's definitely afraid of falling again.
Several months after her 75th birthday, another friend and I were leaving a restaurant, arm in arm. As we approached the stairs to the parking lot, she released herself from my grasp and transferred her attention to the railing at her side. "I always hold on, now. I hate looking like an old lady, but I really don't want to fall. " I spent the next ten minutes assuring her that she was not that old, that she was not that feeble, that she was, in fact, very smart to take precautionary measures. After all, nobody wants to fall.
Big Cuter knocked me to the ground in a game of Family Basketball. He was 12 or 13; I was 31 years his senior. I bounced across the driveway. I was scraped and aching. He gathered me in his arm and carried me into the house. It was hard to tell who was more upset. Neither one of us wanted me to fall.
And so I wondered - who created that Wellness questionnaire? The answer is obvious. Or, perhaps, it has a more subtle purpose. Perhaps answering No is an indication of incipient dementia. After all, everybody is afraid of falling. Aren't you?