The Fall: This winter I was walking around my car on a friend’s driveway, checking it out after an incident on the road, when my two feet came together and wedged themselves against a small ledge. The momentum of my body propelled me forward but my feet were stuck. I fell face first, on my cheek, my hand and my knees, smashing into the concrete. Whack! Maybe it was a “thud.” After a moment, I stood up. My face, hands and knees were scraped and bloody; but my body was basically unbroken. I congratulated myself—all that training had developed muscles that had protected me and had strengthened my bones. I was not frail!
From that moment on I felt vulnerable. Others in my age group are becoming aware of the “dreaded” fall and the ensuing sense of “vulnerability.” If you can read only one article on the topic of “Falling” go to Katie Hafner’s two-part article (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?_r=0 ).
Where does one turn when our confidence and (perhaps) our arrogance creates “a chink in our armour”, a weak spot in our figurative “suit of armour”? If unattended and unacknowledged, the element of fear will penetrate our psyche. Questions such as “Should I continue to live alone?”; “Should I move into a senior residence?” and “Should I join a monitoring service and wear an alarm device?” became insistent mantras in my brain. My experience as a psychotherapist has taught me that fear, uncertainty, and lack of confidence are self-fulfilling prophecies!
I began a search for answers to these questions. I am a volunteer for Jewish Seniors Alliance of Greater Vancouver, therefore I am familiar with their Senior Peer Support Counselling Services and their Information Referral Line 604-732-1555 https://jsalliance.org/peer-support/ . But wait a minute—I am an independent, smart (and obviously stubborn) woman—because it took some time before I could admit that I needed help in the form of information, referrals and counselling. I was indeed vulnerable, that is, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded, open to attack or damage.” Seniors today are vulnerable to accidents, abuse, financial distress and becoming frail and isolated. Services are available but we are often too shy or embarrassed to avail ourselves of them.
I was experiencing a dilemma: a. Remain independent and face a serious incident without access to assistance, or b. Create a contingency plan involving security provisions in the case of an emergency (all those “what if’s”). Like many other seniors in Vancouver, I live alone; there is no one I speak to on a daily basis; I come and go as I please: No one checks on me. As all of these thoughts played out in my mind, it became obvious that my “independence” was illusory; if I didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure my psychological and physical well-being, there would be no independence. Today I did just that and telephoned 604-732-1555 for an appointment with a counsellor.
Dolores Luber, April 2015