Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Slipping, falling, and mindfulness

After taking a shower today I realized that the towel on the wall was wet from Mary's shower just before, so I had to go all the way over to the opposite wall to get a dry one. By the time I stepped back into the stall to dry off my legs, I was already distracted, and I nearly tripped on the step-up into the shower. It's easy to see how falling in showers is a big problem, especially for people as they age. Hell, not two weeks ago I slipped ever so slightly twice when stepping into the shower at Kirsten and Ted's back in Princeton. That is a particularly slippery shower, mind you.

It brought to mind a conversation I had not long ago at all with the CEO of a specialized insurance brokerage. He was telling me about earlier days in his career, when he worked at a larger carrier, and where he insured restaurants (not that specialized a risk). "What's the number 1 risk at restaurants?" he asked, and I luckily guessed it was falls.  Then he asks me how to mitigate the risk -- and thereby get lower premiums --, and I thought about not putting bathrooms downstairs. He tells me that's one thing, but on an even more basic level, that restaurants shouldn't have salad bars. And I'm thinking, yeah, spills of oil on the floor, and he says it's much simpler:  you just don't want people to get up.

I was also reminded of reading somewhere of work former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill had done in his healthcare consultancy which emphasized that, at all costs, hospitals and healthcare facilities should seek to minimize falls by patients, because falls were so highly correlated with increased lengths of stays, bad outcomes, and costs.  I'll be damned if I can find a link to that.

But, anyway, around the house, falling is so closely connected to mindfulness. If one can simply be attuned to situations in which you're likely to fall, you're not gonna.

I guess most people just don't.  Until they do.

I had a feeling this wasn't the first time I had written about this topic, and indeed it's not. Here's an entry from 2009.

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