I want you to know a bit about me, so you understand why I take this subject – falls prevention – so seriously. My aim is not only to inform you about what can be done to prevent older adult falls, but also to provide sufficient guidance and tools that you will be able to take action, improving your safety, health and wellness.
I am a social psychologist, recently retired after working in public health research, education, and prevention. I was privileged to work at State University of New York (SUNY) Brooklyn, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and, most recently, as a contractor for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
For several decades I communicated mostly with colleagues, seeking to learn what works to prevent injury and disease and to provide evidence-based programs to solve safety, health, and wellness needs. Now, I want to my expertise in public health to have conversations with family, friends and neighbors. And I want to be guided by your expertise – what are your falls concerns, what do you want to know more about, and what will help you take action to be safer at home.
On the personal side, I grew up in New England, lived in New York City and then Atlanta (where CDC is located). When my mother, then aged 79, moved to Florida, I moved with her, both to support her and to enjoy the Southwest Gulf of Mexico on-the-coast living. Once in Florida I worked part time for FEMA (mostly via computer) and, to my great amazement, I learned to sail. My book, Learning to Sail: A 50-Something Woman Goes to Sea is part journal and part tall tales (not about falls prevention but a fun read ___).
One day as my friend and I sailed his 35 ft sloop north toward Venice, FL, everything changed. I had a call telling me my mom, then 90, was having a heart attack. After emergency surgery and intensive rehab, she was happy to return home, continue physical therapy, and enjoy her painting and craft activities. Mom slowly became more fragile, having a fall at 91 which may have been due to a stroke. She suffered from a broken wrist, nose, and many bruises. She enjoyed another year at home, with lots of assistance.
We had already made safety modifications to our home, and now we made more, thus I talk about before the fall and after the fall. In this effort to prevent falls for you and your loved ones, several factors come together: my own personal experience, years of scientific study, and the perspective of a social psychologist that knows that making significant changes can be challenging. Prevent Falls was designed to help.