Lucy has spent the past 50 years in her home and every year, she looks forward to Springtime in her garden. Lucy’s garden is in the backyard. It’s her happy place, where every day, new surprises bloom.
Every Spring morning, Lucy looks forward to seeing which buds have appeared and which plants need tending to.
At 80 years old, Lucy has begun to walk with a cane. But, that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying her garden.
It’s early in the season. There’s overgrowth and remnants of winter. Lucy does what she can. She’s not as agile as she once was, but that hasn’t stopped her from enjoying her garden.
One day while walking among her emerging greenery, she noticed new buds on her peonies. Excitedly, she took a step forward but lost her balance and tumbled to the ground.
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Lucy wasn’t hurt, but she couldn’t stand up. She tried every which way, but she just couldn’t get back on her feet.
And then all of a sudden, there she was in her beautiful garden that she loved so very much. Alone. Frightened. Only the sweet smells of Springtime to keep her company while she waited, feeling defeated.
An hour went by.
Lucy tried to stand again and again.
She yelled, “help!” hoping that someone would hear.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, a neighbor who was taking a walk heard her call. Though her voice was faint, the neighbor followed the sound to Lucy’s garden. There, she found Lucy on the ground among her peonies unable to stand. That neighbor immediately dialed 9-1-1.
Lucy had a few scratches. Perhaps a bruise or two. Her pride felt wounded – but, she realized things could have been much worse.
What if I had broken my hip? What if I had hit my head? she thought.
How long would it have taken for someone to find her? What would her family have done?
Lucy was lucky. But, so many other seniors aging in place are not.
If you have senior loved ones who live at home, especially if they’re alone, check in on them frequently. Don’t just call. Show up for them. Let them know that you’re close by and then be there.
Ensure their outdoor areas are clear of overgrown vines and clutter. Have a garden clean-up party to make outdoor areas enjoyable and safe. Clean up decks and walkways. Make sure that surfaces aren’t slippery. Pathways should be level and free of trip hazards. Don’t forget handrails on outdoor steps. And, always make sure that walkways are well-lit. If you can’t always be around, and your loved one enjoys their independence like Lucy, then invest in a home monitoring system that extends outdoors.
Over 80% of broken hips result from falls at home.
Don’t expect your senior loved one to be lucky like Lucy. Take steps to help them age in place safely.
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Originally published April 11, 2023
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