In this Skylar Spotlight, we talked with Connie Lin, a 79-year-old grandmother from San Luis Obispo, California. She’s had two major falls, the most recent being last year, and shared with us how they’ve affected her life.
Skylar: What was going on during each of those falls
Connie: The first happened in 2010, so when I was 72. I was very fit at that time – well at least more fit than I am now! I would do Tai Chi everyday like my doctor recommended and, if I had a Fitbit at that time, I definitely would’ve been counting my steps. It was bad because it came out of the blue. I was getting out of the shower – I was in a bit of a rush because I was going to see my daughter – and I guess I slipped while coming out. One moment, I was reaching for my towel and the next moment being on the ground. I was lucky I was using the big bathroom – if I was in the small one, I would’ve hit my head on the toilet! Anyway, I was on the ground, luckily nothing wrong with my head, but I hit my knee really badly. I tried standing up but it hurt too much, so I dragged myself out of the bathroom and got my phone. Lucky for me, I have long arms and could reach my phone and my bed. I told my daughter and she came right away.
The second time, I wasn’t not so lucky. I can’t go into as much detail because I just can’t remember them. This was just last year – I had a Fitbit at this time. All I remember is going down the stairs to get the laundry and waking up, hours later, with my head in the laundry basket. I don’t know how long I was out but I remember it being the middle of the night when I got up – it was so dark out. I couldn’t walk too well because I hit my hip but I guess I slept through the initial pain. I called my daughter, she came to get me – she hadn’t moved away yet – and we went to the emergency room just in case. Turns out I had a concussion and a fractured hip.
Skylar: What was it like recovering from the falls?
Connie: You don’t (she says laughing). Oh, the thing you’ll learn about a fall is that, well when you’re my age, you don’t recover fully from a fall. Sure the pain goes away – and that’s over a long time! But because you spent so long avoiding one kind of pain, you end up developing a new one. See what you kids take for granted is how you don’t have to exercise or eat well at all in order to stay healthy. Just sleep all day and party all night. When you’re my age, you need to WORK just to stay healthy. And when you can’t, that’s when you start to get old. I’ve aged more in the past 7 years than I ever thought I would – and I was a health nut growing up!
But getting back to your question, it involved a lot of physical therapy, a lot of anxious calls from my daughter and a lot of bad feelings. And they don’t go away. Even now, my knee will feel shaky and my hip will hurt if I lie a certain way. Overall, I would not recommend it!
Skylar: How have these falls affected your life?
Connie: Well, they were sure as hell a wake-up call that I was getting older! Ah, I remember tumbling around with my brothers when I was a young girl and then with my kids when they were young too. I guess it hit me that those times were behind me and it was a little sad. But worst was how scared it made me of something happening again. After that first fall, I had to stop Tai Chi for a while. So much knee bending. I haven’t been as flexible since. My daughter gave me the Fitbit when she heard about it, thinking it would make me want to walk more. And it did! But my damn knee wouldn’t let me. Ask me where the Fitbit is now?
Skylar: Where is it?
Connie: I don’t know! I just put it down one day and figured it was no use. I was so brave before, now I’m scared even to go down my stairs. I guess I’ve never been older than I am now technically, but I really do feel much older. I don’t like it, but I don’t know what to do.
Skylar: Have you ever considered getting a medical alert device?
Connie: What’s that?
Skylar: Have you heard of Life Alert?
Connie: Ha, if you ever see me wearing that thing, oh god. Look, I’m scared of falling. But if there’s anything that my second fall showed me, besides that I should’ve padded my stairs earlier, it’s that I might not be able to press that little button. So if I can’t, then I’m just wearing an ugly necklace for nothing. What you guys have in mind – it calling on its own – is good for that. Plus it looks pretty slick. Let me know when it comes out, by the way.
Learn how Skylar can help someone like Connie here!