Do Not Fall!

by Steve Rapson

I fell… again. Again, I wasn’t hurt. Unless you count mortification. I had a serious case since I went down in front of dozens of witnesses. Solo falls are better for the ego.

I have fallen out of trees, off galloping horses, into sand pits, from second story windows, and off ladders, fences and roofs.

I have fallen out of moving cars and off speeding motorcycles. While drunk in the former, sober in the latter. One of my favorite ways to fall is to have a car door flung open in front of my bicycle. In martial arts class the sensei used me as demonstration throwing dummy. It’s hardly worth mentioning that I have tripped over my own feet numerous times.

One could say that I have earned a PhD in falling.

Anatomy of a fall

This time, I fell at church in front of the assembled congregation. Singer, Cathy Ross, and I were providing music during Sunday service at Jupiter’s Unity Church. We approached the stage, I sat on my stool, and then fell off. Truly! There’s video of the event. It appeared I had been pushed off by a gust of wind, or some malevolent spirit lurking in the church. What other explanation could there be?

Oh… well, I suppose one could consider my various risk factors for falling: I’m seventy-five, and I’ve had knee and foot surgeries in the past year. Also, Mrs. Rapson says I’m chronically inattentive; but, most telling, I’ve fallen in the past. Statistically, if you have ever fallen, you are highly likely to fall again. I prefer the spirit theory.

One in four seniors experience a fall every year. Falling is the number two cause of injury and death for people over sixty-five. Mostly in the home: 80% of the time. Half of these falls result in hip fracture. The remainder are a catch-all of hand, arm and leg breaks and fractures.

As we age our stability decreases and our risk factors increase. Sometimes we just fall over for no apparent reason, like my recent fall. And the older you are the more likely it is you will experience a serious injury from your fall. Twelve percent of seniors who fall die shortly thereafter. Thus my admonition: Do Not Fall! Advice I appear to have a hard time following.

Falls are costly. To the faller, the family, and society at large.  Let me not bore you with too many factoids. Here are a few:*

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
  • Each year, three million older people are treated in the ER for fall injuries.
  • Each year, 300,000 seniors are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.
  • In 2015, the total medical cost for falls was fifty billion dollars. Medicare and Medicaid paid 75% of these costs.
The Damage

My cost for this fall was considerable. You’ll notice my guitar went down with me. Worse, it went down under me. It was thoroughly crushed. I lay there lamenting the loss of my favorite guitar as parishioners rushed to my aid. They were sure I had been injured (see factoids above). I kept assuring them I was not. More importantly, I wanted to put the people’s minds at ease and return to the worship service that I had so dramatically interrupted.

I got to my feet making light of the situation and asked Cathy to talk to the people while I determined if the show could go on. The guitar strings were still attached, so I re-tuned and it worked! Since I was at church, I announced to the congregation: “The guitar still plays, it’s a miracle!” They all laughed and the show went on.

Steve’s new guitar by Marc Beneteau

I am grateful that, once again, my PhD served me well, as I escaped the fall without injury. My crushed guitar is being repaired. Though I used this incident as an excuse to buy a new one:

Being a senior has its benefits as well as its risks.

Step carefully my friends.



Steve Rapson is a solo guitarist, songwriter, and author of  The Art of the Soloperformer: A Field Guide to Stage & Podium

2 thoughts on “Do Not Fall!

  1. Bob G says:

    Again, nice job Steve. I believe when the day comes that I have that inadvertent fall, it will be because of inattentiveness. I’ll try not to fall……

  2. Bernita Joyce Pelkey says:

    Dear Rosemary, bless your heart. Better days are on the way! Sorry Steve; couldn’t help myself. Seriously sorry for you and your guitar. I have balance problems and use a cane. Hope you are up and running soon. Take care my friend…

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