What Dr. Luke has to Say About Falls in Older People

The total amount and the percentage of older people in China will increase dramatically in the next decade.  With this increase will be many issues, which will face not only the older, people but also the larger society of China.  How will the older people and the Chinese society respond to these needs?  One of the main issues, which will need to be dealt with, is the issue of falls in older people.  That is when they fall to the ground and get injured.  Older people have more falls than younger adults do.  Why is this?  Children have a lot of falls but they do not get injured near as often.  Why is this?  Older adults both fall more and get injured more.  The major problem with falls in older adults is broken bones and head injuries.  These can be serious and cost the patient a lot of money.  What can be done to help older adults with this problem?  Let us look at the story Mao Zhao Xi.

Mao Zhao Xi was 72 years old and was living with his oldest daughter and her husband.  Mao Zhao Xi's oldest son had moved for work reasons to another city in China and Mao Zhao Xi wanted to stay in his hometown.  Two years before, after his wife had died, he moved in with his daughter.  He had become depressed after his wife's death and had moved in with his daughter at her request.  His daughter was 45 years old and she had a daughter 19 years old who was a student in a local university.

Mao Zhao Xi had done well with his health until about a year ago.  At that time his daughter noticed that every month or so he tended to fall.  Then 6 months before she came home from work and noticed that the side of his face was bruised.  She asked her father what had happened but he did not want to talk about it.  She wondered if he fell.  She noticed on his arm a large bruise several days later.  When she confronted him he admitted he fell but stated that he had tripped over the carpet and stumbled.  It was nothing more.

Two weeks later she noticed another bruise on his other arm and Mao Zhao Xi told her the same thing had happened.  That is he tripped over the carpet again.  She wanted him to see a doctor but he said he was ok though she noticed he was in some pain.  Then one-day Mao Zhao Xi's daughter received a call on her cell phone from her daughter.  Her daughter told her mother to come home immediately because Mao Zhao Xi was hurt bad.  She returned home quickly and found him in severe pain.  One of arms appeared broken from another fall.  Mao Zhao Xi was in severe pain.  His daughter took him to the local hospital's emergency room.

The doctor at the hospital confirmed that Mao Zhao Xi had broken his arm.  When they heard the story that Mao Zhao Xi had fallen recently they admitted him to the hospital to find out what was going wrong.  They fixed Mao Zhao Xi's arm and then investigated why he was falling.  The doctor asked Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter many questions about the falls. First they asked questions about his vision.  What is good? Did he have problems seeing in the night?  He did have some vision problems and already wore glasses.  The doctor ordered some vision tests.  Second, the doctor asked about Mao Zhao Xi's hearing.  His daughter said it appeared worse in the past few months.  The doctor ordered a hearing and ear evaluation.  Then the doctor asked if Mao Zhao Xi had numbness in his feet or trouble with general balance. He and his daughter said no to this answer.  If they had said yes, this could show up a lack of Vitamin B12.  Then the doctor asked Mao Zhao Xi if he felt dizzy or used medications and he said no.

Finally he asked about his joints. Did he have pain or weakness in his hips, knees, ankles or other foot problems? Mao Zhao Xi told him that he did have pain in one of his knees. Years ago he had an injury to one of his knees which had been worse over the past two years after he had accidentally fallen.  Since then his knee had progressively worsened till now it at times hurt a lot when he turned his knee a certain way and he would give way to the pain and fall.  Often he could catch himself but recently he had not been able to as the pain was more intense and he would grab his knee and not other things to hold onto.  Thus he was falling on the floor or into other furniture.

The doctor examined the knee and then ordered an X-ray of the knee.  The X-ray showed a problem, which the doctor thought, could be fixed with surgery.  Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter were glad the reason for his falls could be fixed. The next week Mao Zhao Xi had surgery and his knee problem was fixed.

During the time in the hospital Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter had talked about the meaning of pain.  The reason was that in the past several months with his knee hurting so much Mao Zhao Xi has thought about this a lot.  Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter had a friend of theirs come and see them while Mao Zhao Xi was in the hospital.  They talked to him about this.  He told them about a place in the Bible which says, 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever, you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1.2-4).'  Mao Zhao Xi knew that though he was old he could still mature in some aspects of his life.  However, he considered it amazing to consider trials as pure joy.  However he was interested that he could be mature and lacking in nothing.  His daughter was interested in this as well.  How could they have this joy in their lives they asked their friend?

Their friend told them that this joy came through the person of Jesus Christ. He showed them another place in the Bible in a book written to the people in Rome the following sentences which said, 'therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus  Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope; And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5.1-5).'

This was truly amazing.  We can have peace with God if we have faith in Jesus Christ.  This faith gives us hope in God, which then gives us hope through our sufferings in life.  The question Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter had was how to have faith in Jesus Christ so that they could have peace with God and hope in the midst of sufferings?  The really knew little about Jesus Christ.

Their friend showed them what came just after this area in the Bible.  It said, 'You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5.6-8).'  This was even more amazing to Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter.  God loves us so much he sent his only Son to die for us.  This was when we were powerless and going against God.  They asked their friend why did Jesus Christ die for us?  They thought it was great he had died for them but why had he died?  Her friend told them that was a great question.

In the meantime the doctor after several more days had told Mao Zhao Xi he could go home.  Before he left the hospital the doctor told him that his ear and eye tests were normal except that he needed to have a slight change in his glasses.  The doctor told them several things they could do to help with preventing falls.  First, make sure the house has good light at day and night.  People who fall often do so because they cannot see things well due to poor lighting.  Second, the home should be checked for loose rugs and furniture, which can be easily moved.  Such furniture should be moved to a part of the house where Mao Zhao Xi usually did not go as that type of furniture or rugs could easily be moved and cause him to fall.  Third, Mao Zhao Xi needed to buy a walking cane.  This would help him in the future if his knee felt weak.  He could lean on his cane and not fall.  Fourth, Mao Zhao Xi needed to wear shoes, which fit well and did not slide easily.  If he did then he could lessen the chance of falling.  Fifth, he needed to keep his toenails trimmed well.  That would prevent sores from forming on his foot.  Sixth and most importantly it was important for him to exercise daily to build up the muscles in his legs.  They would prevent falls from occurring so easily.

Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter made plans for all of these changes as soon as they arrived at home.  They were very glad he was healing well.  Their friend, whom they had seen in the hospital, had promised to come by and help them with these changes.  She did and also, as promised, finished the discussion on why Jesus Christ had died for them.  She showed Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter a place in the Bible, which explained why Jesus Christ died for us.  The place she showed them said, 'As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2.1-5).'

Their friend shared that our sins separated us from God and even created a death of our ability to respond to God.  As the passage said, all of us did these things.  We followed our own selfish desires and thoughts.  Thus we were opposed to God and his work and deserved only punishment from God.  Jesus Christ though died for our sins on the Cross.  He took our sins on himself so we could live with God.  Jesus Christ thus becomes our bridge back to knowing God and having peace with God. 

Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter were interested in knowing how to have this peace. Their friend showed them a place in the Bible which said, 'if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10.9,10).'  Their friend explained to them that this meant that if you confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Universe and is Lord of our lives because he died on the Cross for our sins. Then believe in our hearts that after he died on the Cross, three days later God raised him from the dead to show God's power over sin and death, if we believe both of these things we will be saved from our sins to have peace with God both now and for all eternity.

Their friend asked Mao Zhao Xi and his daughter if they wanted to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and they said they did.  Then they prayed this prayer together, 'Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner and have sinned against you.  I believe that you died on the Cross for my sins and then after you died you were buried for three days and later rose from the dead to show your victory over sin and death.  I ask for you now to come into my life and save me from my sins.'  Mao Zhao Xi prayed this prayer with his daughter and they both received salvation through Jesus Christ to give them peace now and forever as well as receive power for victory over their suffering.  You too can receive Jesus Christ by praying this prayer they just prayed.