Senior Scene : Falls Change Lives

Serene Karplus, Nederland.  Only a formidable force could turn back the clock to stop the aspens from displaying their golden hues and prevent the onset of autumn. That is not the type of fall that National Falls Prevention Week, September 18-22, seeks to forestall.


We are all capable of falling at any age and fitness level. I recall hitting the ground several times one summer while hiking – tripping over rocks or sliding off a snow/mud incline. Falling on my wrists, I lost the use of my thumbs for weeks, unable to wield a knife, open a container, operate a hairbrush or toothbrush properly, or pick up small items. A senior friend referred me to a Denver hand surgeon who quickly resolved the problem.


All of us have slipped on ice, tripped on trails, or stumbled over objects on our floors. A younger friend of mine torqued her shoulder (took months to heal) when her foot caught in a blanket getting out of bed. Another fell over her dog and broke her pelvis. We all make simple stupid errors or are subject to accidents.


As we reach age 65, the Center for Disease Control tracks our statistical odds as being one in three that we will fall. Many falls are serious and head injuries or broken bones that don’t heal properly can be devastating. I am happy to report that several seemingly frail older mountain residents who have fallen have fully recovered from broken arms and hips. I am sad that some didn’t make it, due to complications from their falls. I am even more sad that some of our seniors who have fallen are now isolated, unable to leave the house for fear of falling.


Studies have shown that the fear of falling can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overcoming fear so that we remain active and fit is critical to our ability to prevent falls. We also need to structure our lives and homes so that we don’t set ourselves up for needless trips and falls. Each of us knows someone who could use a little help with this fear.


Falls change lives. Local resident Randy Sachter has stepped up to help. After attending a teacher training program, she has volunteered to bring our mountain community “A Matter of Balance”, an eight- week evidenced based program at no charge. This class addresses the fear of falling, both from a “cognitive restructuring” approach to reframe it and through gentle exercises to build muscles that help us balance, remain mobile, and develop confidence. She will also teach what we can do to prevent falls.


The Nederland class begins on the first day of Falls Prevention week, Monday September 18, and runs through Monday, November 6, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church. Registration is required. Please contact us at 303-258-0799 to reserve your place. To join us for lunch after each session, just call the same number by the Friday prior.


Boulder County has coordinated dozens of events with multiple agencies and organizations to honor the intentions of Falls Prevention Week: to educate and make available the many resources to keep us all on our feet. The schedule of educational and interactive programs is posted at


Mountain families and friends get together at the first annual Italian Night Community Dinner serving family-friendly fare of Spaghetti, Meatballs, Salad, Garlic Bread, and Fruit. Wines from Augustina’s Winery available by the glass. No reservations required – just drop in. Saturday, September 16, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Nederland Community Center. Dinner is $10 Adult, $5 Requested Contribution over age 60, and $4 Children under age 12. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Nederland Area Seniors.


All adults are welcome at all Mountain MidLife and Nederland Area Seniors events, attended mostly by folks over age 50. Everyone is invited to all meals at the Nederland Community Center. Please call two days ahead for lunch reservations (a week ahead for dinners and breakfasts if possible) to 303-258-0799. Missed the deadline? Call anyway. Costs listed show first the over-age-60 requested anonymous contribution, then the under-age-60. Please note that all over age 60 are welcome regardless of ability to contribute financially.


Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.