Senior Life

Jennifer Meagher RN is the owner of Senior Life LLC, Advocates and  Consultants. Meagher founded and oversees the Better Business Partners  Serving Seniors. She is on the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Committee and has specialized in geriatrics since 1998. She is called on by doctors, attorneys,  and financial advisors to care for their clients and their families. Contact Jennifer at

Dear Jennifer,

My wife has problems with her balance. She's been falling about once a week lately. I took her to the doctor and he said she has neuropathy in her feet from her diabetes and that's the problem. Our kids are hounding me to put her in a nursing home and I don't see what the nursing home is going to do to stop that. I sure would appreciate a response letter that I can show to my kids.



Dear Alton,

I agree with you 150% -- no one can “stop” someone from falling. If I am walking with a client, and she stumbles, I can correct that with her. If she is truly in the act of falling to the ground, it’s next to impossible to prevent it – gravity and her momentum are taking her down. If I grab her arm I might injure it. If I try to grab her person and bring her back, we are more likely to both fall, with me on top of her. And I will have wrenched my back in the effort. That said, if she is in a nursing home they can respond to her more quickly.

Let's examine this issue of how nursing homes manage falls.

One. Nursing homes in New York State are what's called "restraint free "therefore they do not tie the person into their bed or chair. The staff will explain to the person that they are not to get up without someone nearby. They may try physical therapy. If these efforts don’t work will consider utilizing chair and bed alarms. These devices will alert them when the individual has shifted his/her weight off the chair or bed. If the staff is nowhere near their room when the alarm goes off it is possible the person will fall before help arrives. Many folks do not like the sound of the alarm and therefore will not try to stand up. Others will learn how to unplug the alarm so that it's not going off all the time as it is a very shrill sound.

Everything the nursing home does can be duplicated in the home. Alton, I do want you to be sure you are hearing all of your children's concerns. I imagine there is more to their concern than the falling. Have a heart to heart talk. In the end it is your life and your wife's life and your decisions to make.




1. First, we have to understand why the person is falling. I do recommend we get the physician’s input on this. Falls most commonly occur due to weakness and deconditioning, poor balance, neuropathy, or dizziness and lightheadedness. Each one of these factors has different causes which your physician will sort out.

2. The next thing to consider are the circumstances around the falls. Many folks fall because they are hurrying to the bathroom. As we age we should not wait until we feel an urge to empty our bladder, we should empty our bladder every 2 to 3 hours whether we feel like we need it or not which will prevent that mad rush to the bathroom. Some folks fall because they have orthostatic blood pressure changes which means their blood pressure drops when they stand up. This person must take a moment before they step away from the chairto allow their blood pressure to equilibrate. Individuals with serious neuropathy may not sense the floor underneath their feet. Our feet and toes constantly send messages to our brain to help us maintain our balance. Without this messaging, balance becomes very difficult and the person may fall. This person needs to move about consistently with a walker. Balance can also be off after a stroke, TIA, or inner ear difficulty. Please do not try to diagnose your loved one’s condition and bypass a visit to the doctor.

3. It is important to minimize injury from falling. This may include removing small rugs that slide about, installing grab bars, clearing out walkways in the home, improving lighting, and you may go so far as to add padding to the corners or edges of counters. There are also undergarments with hip padding which help prevent a broken hip. If the individual has a seizure disorder or similar which causes them to fall frequently they may want to wear a protective hat. These hats act is helmets but look much more like a hat than a helmet. And last, individuals need to have good footwear which is generally recommended to be a Velcro or lace up oxfords shoe.

4. The correct posture for walking is as straight as possible: head up, shoulders over hips, and work to lift those feet rather than shuffle.

5. Vision; if the individual cannot see well, falls are much more likely. Eye exams are recommended, correct eyeglasses worn, and sufficient lighting provided.

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By John Sproul

Some entries on a listing of collectible sports card have the letters "RC" next to the player's name. What does the designation RC stand for? 

A. Printed on recycled paper 

B. Card came with RC brand gum 

C. Registered Trademark Registration 

D. Rookie card 

The correct answer is D. 

There is no commonly-accepted definition of what constitutes a rookie card. Some collectors believe that an athlete's first appearance on any trading card qualifies it as his rookie card. Others believe that a rookie card is the first licensed issue from a major manufacturer that is widely distributed. There can be more than one rookie card for a player. Rookie cards are generally worth more than other regular cards in a set.