Charlie has experienced several falls in the past few months. Most of the falls have occurred during the night and he never remembers them the next day. He is usually able to get himself back on his feet, so I never know anything has happened until I see the battle scars the next morning.
I discovered his most recent fall because he asked me for a band-aid when he arose one morning. He insisted he hadn't fallen during the night, but I knew the brush burn on his knee didn't come from the bed sheets. He had also been complaining for several days about his left shoulder; again he insists he didn't fall, but he couldn't even raise his left arm. The only logical conclusion is that he fell at some unknown time.
His shoulder injury was serious enough that I took him to be checked out at the VA hospital. They ran him through the usual x-rays and tests, and concluded that it was only a bruised muscle. The therapist sent him home with a set of pulleys for therapy, a walker, and some grab bars.
These incidents have prompted me to insist that he begin using the walker instead of his trusty (not so fast) HurryCane. He hasn't given me any trouble about using the walker because he realizes that he is much more secure with his little cart to lean on. Besides, it gives him enough independence to be able to pour a second cup of coffee on his own.
We have had to make some furniture adjustments to accommodate the new wheels, but that's a small sacrifice for his safety.
I'm not sure to what I should attribute his declining mobility and balance problems; whether it is just natural aging, the dementia getting a deeper hold on his body, or if his alcohol consumption, while not increasing, is nonetheless affecting his balance. Perhaps it is a combination of the three forces at work. Whatever the cause, it is certainly cause for alarm.
So far, he has been lucky in that he hasn't broken anything. How long his luck will hold out remains to be seen.
Falls are one of the major causes of death in the elderly. One way to prevent falls is to participate in strength training exercises.
We have ST classes available on site here at the senior living community where we live. But Charlie decided about six months ago that these weren't doing any good, so he quit attending. That is about the time that the falls began to accelerate. I am quite certain that his reluctance to attend the classes is more related to his growing refusal to get up before noon than his cockamamie idea that they weren't helping.
How to address these issues has become the dilemma. Do I fight with him daily over getting out of bed for classes? Or do I take the easy route and assume a "what will be, will be" attitude?
I can't win, no matter what I decide. Classes are on vacation until September, so I have two months to choose my poison.