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Scatter mats and cats can make you go splat

Helpful hints on how to stand on your own two feet in this week's Everything King
xray body scan skeleton

When they start taking away your scatter mats and your cat, face it, it's almost over.

They will tell you both are tripping hazards. It happens to everyone.

A recent story in the news caught my eye and sent fear through my heart.

Unintentional falls are the most common form of injury across the country, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

There was a time when I would hear about an older person having a fall and I would think in all my smug middle age-ness: “Why are all these people falling? What is their problem?”

(I know what you are thinking. Now, I want to smack myself, too.)

I don’t question it anymore, having spent quite a bit of time flat on my butt looking up into the face of my cat as we both say, “Hey, what happened?”

To be fair, this report says while falls are the scourge of growing older, it is not just the elderly who are falling. It's young children, middle-aged folks and workers all falling down the stairs.

It obviously can happen to anyone.

It has come to the point now where I turn sideways and go down the stairs one at a time. Takes longer and looks stupid, but it feels safer.

On pavement, I do something called 'The Penquin' waddle, waddle, side to side. (Sounds cuter than it looks.)

The stats suggest falls within the home accounted for more than 114,000 emergency department visits last year.

While there are many reasons for a trip and fall, whether it be a medical issue or uneven ground or ice and snow, I have personally found a few other ways to unintentionally send yourself on a trip you were not planning to take.

Don’t try any of these at home.

1. Carrying too much junk. This is my life. I am always carrying a giant purse, coffee, phone and usually six bags of groceries. Could I make several trips and carry less? Don’t be ridiculous! It is like a personal challenge to see how many bags you can hang over your arms and neck and get the stuff in the door in one trip. Trouble is, the bags will block your vision and you will miss that first outside concrete step and tumble head first into the entryway. The bad news is I scared the cat. The good news is I saved the coffee.

2.  Not paying attention. You may be fumbling around trying to find your keys and then don’t look down to watch where you are walking. SPLAT! This is when your vanity will overtake your concern for your injuries. While laying face down on cement while trying to figure out how to get back up on your knees you will be more concerned that none of your neighbours saw it. You plan how to get up without pointing your butt to the sun. You plan how to nonchalantly dust yourself off and look around to blame something/anything: the concrete (must be uneven), your shoes (clearly a slippery sole). You get inside and go directly to the phone to call a real-estate agent because by now you know the only way to save face is to move away.

3. Misjudging the stair depth. This can happen in unfamiliar surroundings like arenas. I managed to trip going UP the stairs and was forced to explain that to the X-ray technician.

“Did you fall downstairs?” she asked.

“Ummm, no I was going UP the stairs. Trust me, that is harder do,” I reply.

I think I saw her write on the chart under “Reason for fall?”

“The patient fell over her own Bozo feet.” (Cruel but accurate.)

Falling is no laughing matter. Literally, for the elderly, it can lead to some very serious outcomes.

I guess the best plan is to use stairway hand rails, install grab bars in the bathroom, step and lively and wear sensible shoes.

Oh, and keep looking down. This is not good as a general philosophy, but is good safety advice.


About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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