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Grandma tells about different reasons and responses.

Different reasons of falls, elderly lifestyles, precautions, responses to devices and affect of the culture.

Photo of Nesibe İrem Erdem
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Here's info from grandmom:

HOW THEY FELL:
She fell while she was wearing platform heel shoes and the front of her shoe tripped up on a bump on the sidewalk. She was on her 70s back then. Was falling to the front and put her arm front for falling better, got hurt on her shoulder and wrist. 

One of her friends fell when climbing down the stairs and didn't see the last step. Put her step like stepping on flat surface while there was still more steps. Fell and hurt her leg. Clear vision is very important they said. 

Another friend of hers lost balance in the bus while it was moving and she was standing, fell on her hip and hurt her hip. 

She heard of other falls caused by slippery bottomed shoes, or twisted ankles. 


WHAT PRECAUTIONS BEFORE AND AFTER:

Grandma says she always walks slowy, thus carefully but her friends rush sometimes. She wasn't taking any spesific precautions before, other than taking good care of herself generally. She tries to eat healthy and moves a lot. Gets vitamins for bones. She live alone and have friends that go outside with. 

After the incident she stopped wearing such high heels and narrow heels outside. Though if she's going for a visit to a friend, she take high heel shoes with her to wear inside. Started exercising but only for her arm to get better and not general physiology.   

Her friends do not wear high heals mostly, neither they did before their falls. And most of them do not exercise. 

 

DID SHE/HOW SHE KNEW ABOUT VARIOUS PRECAUTIONS?

No she did not know. No doctor told her about exercises, safety products. Its an above average private hospital in most developped city of Turkey. Not the general check up doctor, not the eye doctor, nor the orthopedics doctor - even after the fall. She did see the orthopedics doctor before the fall, but he only gave vitamins for the bones and not mentioned anything else.

Then who does? Their children. Her daughter and son keeps telling not to wear those shoes and get non-slippery plastic carpet for the bathtub.  But she didn't think she needed them. Daughter is the one who cares a lot about healthy living and advises her stuff, arrange doctors when needed etc. 

When I asked she also told me they do talk and share info about these sometimes in social conversations with friends but its not a pleasant topic and they wouldn't talk about it during a card game event for example. 


RESPONSES TO SAFETY MEASURES AND ADVISES - CAUSES OF RESISTANCE

4 of her friends in the 6 person card-play group use a cane, 2 of them have fallen before other than her. 2 of them use it all the time because they have vertigo and dizziness problems, the cane helps them stay balanced at those times, and the other 2 use from time to time to make walking easier. They all like it except 1 of them, thats because she can't get used to it. She prefers holding(or pulling down) someone's arm when walking. Grandma says 'its actually necessary to have a support and canes make walking easier' but when I ask her why she don't use one, she seems suprised and say she don't need one, she can walk.  I suspect she is not aware of the decline.

She doesn't have a non-slippery bathtub plastic and rejects to get one. She doesn't feel its necessary and plus it feels tickly on her feet and gets dirty. You gotta clean it from time to time. She didn't see her friends have one either, maybe they only put it while taking a shower and not when a guest is there she says. She finds that more doable and seems convinced she can do that as well maybe.   Some of her friends have a seat for the in the bathtub but she seems disgusted by that also. Its not a habit, to get washed while sitting. It wouldn't be easy she thinks.

 No one has extra handles that they can hold on to in case of falls. 

 When I ask her about the heels, she admits its not wise to wear them, but a woman has to be beautiful and presentable she says. She likes to change her pjs and get well dressed even when she's home alone. To look good is a sign of respect for your friends she says, thus keeps wearing heels. 


DO THEY EXERCISE:

Grandma doesn't do extra exercises, she feels lazy for them and doesn't feel its so necessary because she already move a lot, wash dishes, sometimes even clothes at hand. She also takes walks everyday. Those feel like enough exercise already. When I make her do the repetitive motions the doctor gave for her, she get tired and bored. 

Her friends don't exercise, because it is harder for them to move due to back pains and difficulty to walk. Some of them don't even go out much because of that, only to visit. 



NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:

She and her friends don't consider themselves to be so old, they are in their 70s-80s. Like to reminisce their past and feel alive and beautiful. When I tell about different assistive devices like shopping carts, she says she saw some women use it on the street, but they were really old. 

She says her friends sometimes forget their canes at her place. She has to remind them. 

All her friends have grandchildren.

She doesn't use a smart phone, but most of her friends do. Though only few use the internet or other apps than ones for communication. She got curious and wanted one some time ago, "all use it, why wouldn't I?" she said, but didn't like to use it and switched back.

She enjoys doing housework to a degree that won't exhaust her. She tells how she enjoys washing some clothes at hand and that feels like exercise. She says its laziness that keeps her from exercising, but she's just the opposite of lazy in all the other things, thats just an excuse.

 That also reminds me of a time I volunteered in a care house and big parts of lime tree was cut down so we were picking the parts to make tea. All the elderly loved it and had fun with it. It cheered up the mood and it was something that was useful, and at the same time good exercise for their muscles. 

She don't like to be told of what she should do. But when I say things like, "in the west all doctors definately advise these, its for good living", "you know those handles in bathroom, they're installed in every modern house now, thats the way it should be" she stops feeling stressed and defensive and instead seems more interested. 

Turkish culture is one that has strong family bonds. Close and frequent contact with family is very common as in many eastern cultures. Though great amount of population leaves their birth town and move to big cities, leaving the elderly behind generally. Still the contact often remains quite frequent. Especially when there are grandchildren.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can we adapt exercise into daily chores of the elderly? (Incorporate it to the things that they already like doing and has a use. ) What ways of presenting products, precautions and advises can change the response to it? How can we make precaution guidelines more accessible and heard, especially in less developed countries?

Tell us about your work experience:

Graduate of Product Design, interested in empathical design.

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Nesibo! This is a great research post. There is so much great information here. Thank you for sharing this picture of the life of your grandmother and her friends! I live in NYC. I spoke to older adult family members and none of them were given fall prevention information from their physicians either. They all have regular doctors that are associated with top tier medical centers. I found this concerning and like you wondered how we might broaden awareness and make information more accessible? I posted an idea that involves direct communication to the public, broadening awareness and connecting people to resources, so that older adults plus family and neighbors might advocate for themselves, and also for others. Would something like this be beneficial in Turkey? If you have any thoughts let me know.
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/fall-prevention/ideas/up-standing-citizens

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

I really liked how your grandmother accommodated by wearing practical shoes when outside and carrying her nice ones with her when going to visit friends and family! Would be great to have elegant shoes with little to no heels. There are several idea posts about shoes here. Have you seen them?

Photo of Nesibe İrem Erdem

Hey Bettina, thank you! Yes I also posted one about traction soles that can be put on to any shoe bottom, and saw the others that suggest different solutions to the same matter.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

I will check that out!

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