When I ask my doctors what worries them the most about my future health, both my neurologist and primary care doc say, they worry that I’ll fall. Everybody faces risks – too little or too much medicine, anxious, scared, or melt-down, infection, stranded, lost, jobless, forget something important, accident, heart attack, caregiver or neighbor moves, power goes out, no help when you need it – on and on the list goes. While no one can anticipate or prepare for every risk, couldn’t we prepare for likely risks? So for me its the risk of falling. I stay as strong as I can, ride a trike that can’t tip over, walk with a cane, strengthen my core, get help for uneven surfaces, pay attention whenever I move, sit down when I’m dizzy, reduce clutter, don’t let anyone depend on me for balance.
Risks to people can be classified as physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional functioning, behavior issues, or financial. Risks of the space around you can be cleanliness and soundness of the space you live in, or possibility of losing your home. Social risks can be aloneness – no help, lack of physical access, not enough information to make decisions, limited or no access to medical care, no phone, no transportation.
What to do? Consider and write down risks. Then start with those that are most likely (likely is not the same as the most serious). Falling is not as serious as being hit by a car, but falling is more likely. Create a plan to reduce or prevent that risk and then develop a plan to address the risk if it happens. I already listed what I do to prevent falling or reduce the likelihood that I’ll fall. Then, what do I do if I do fall? I have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on my cell phone screen and an ICE paper in my wallet with all my pertinent contact, diagnosis, and medication info in my wallet.
Do you and your caregivers have a risk plan? Start one now. I haven’t been able to find a software or app to help set up a risk plan. Do you know of one? Let me know if you do.