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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

F is for Falling

Kilgore Falls, MD

My 81-year-old mother fell coming into her house last week. My sister who lives with her says she's fine, and that's good news, of course.

Even before hearing that news, I was thinking about the topic. On one hand, the fall is the lifeblood of physical comedy. Watch out for that banana peeeel! The role of the comedian, going back generations, perhaps millennia, was to take a tumble.

One of my all-time favorite TV shows was The Dick van Dyke Show. As you can see here, Dick would either trip over the ottoman, stumble over it, or neatly evade it.

And YouTube is chock full of people taking a tumble.


Conversely, One in three adults 65 and older falls each year in the United States. In 2005, 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls; about 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized, again in the U.S. And that doesn't even touch on falls from elevation.

This brings me to LifeCall. From the Wikipedia: The motivation behind the systems is that subscribers, mostly senior citizens, would receive a pendant which, when activated, would put them in immediate contact with a dispatch service, without the need to use a phone or other household device...

So far so good.

In 1989, LifeCall began running commercials which contained a scene wherein an elderly woman, identified by a dispatcher as "Mrs. Fletcher" uses the medical alert pendant after having fallen in the bathroom. After falling Mrs Fletcher speaks the phrase "I've fallen and I can't get up" after which the dispatcher informs her that he is sending help.


Taken at its face value, the commercial portrays a dangerous situation for a senior, with perhaps dire consequences...

The "I've fallen and I can't get up" ad had the double misfortune of being unintentionally campy and appearing often on cable and daytime television. The fact that the commercial was a dramatization (as clearly stated in the beginning of the commercial) using rather mediocre acting also contributed to the humor. The combination made "I've fallen... and I can't get up!" a recognized, universal punchline that applied to many comedic situations. All of these factors made the ad memorable, ensuring the line's place in pop culture history.


The commercial's punchline has also been appropriated by members of faith communities.


My final falling reference (briefly) will be falling in love. One could discuss ad nauseum what that really means. But I've had stuck in my head a song by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers called "Falling in Love with Love."

"Falling in Love with Love is falling for make-believe!
Falling in Love with Love is playing the fool!" Here's Julie Andrews singing Falling In Love With Love.
Falling Creek, GA

Note: I had a bunch of photos put aside for the post which I CANNOT FIND. Photos taken from government websites.
ROG

33 comments:

RuneE said...

I can't comment on the TV shows etc. since I live in Europe, But I can say that I'm, impressed by that first picture. I have tried the technique and you have done it very well

mrsnesbitt said...

Falling in Love with you! Elvis lives!

Ackworth born said...

I've never cared for slapstick comedy and falling is rarely very funny but I love waterfalls except for the rain that is falling again outside my window!

foto CHIP said...

Cool and great pictures :)

Squirrel said...

You have made some very good points about Seniors falling. Well done.

Sylvia K said...

The first shot is truly breathtaking! Just hoping I don't become another "falling senior statistic"!

Have a great day!

Sylvia

Janie said...

So true that a fall by a senior citizen is no joke. My mother at 88 falls all too often, and we worry.
On the other hand, Dick van Dyke did slapstick so well, I had to laugh at his ridiculous falls.
Beautiful waterfall photo!

anthonynorth said...

Falling from the serious to the funny. Good slapstick is excellent, but it can so asily be bad. Whereas Julie Andrews is never bad.
Enjoyed your post.

photowannabe said...

Very impressive choices for the letter F, from serious to humorous. Thanks for an interesting and by the way, great shots, post.

Demeur said...

From my doctor I learned that most seniors don't fall and break their hip. Their hip breaks and then they fall.

Biggest problem here is seniors getting confused and getting lost when going for walks.

Gee don't we have great things to look forward to in the coming years.

Sistertex said...

Beautiful photos and a very nice take on 'F'. Great job.

Paula Scott said...

Wow! Thanks so much for all the info! What a great post! Great images even if you didn't take all of them.
We had gotten my mother in law one of those gadgets. She would conveniently forget to wear them (too stubborn to admit that she needed it). The falling continued. Too many trips to the hospital later and sadly, she is now in a nursing home.
A most Fascinating post.

Beverley Baird said...

Geat post with lots of good info!

Carol said...

What a good post...enjoyed reading this...Dick Van Dyke is one of my faves also...and I never tire of Julie Andrews...

Rinkly Rimes said...

You covered the topic wonderfully well. I fear falling. So many old people die soon after a fall!

James said...

Very F friendly post and I'm ashamed to say that the old "I've fallen and I can't get up" ad used to crack me up. Another great comedic faller was John Ritter aka Jack Tripper.

Well done!

Amy said...

Since I'm known for my falling and as I'm only a few years away from the advanced age of 65, I'll try to heed your timely warning; then, once again, "Oh no, I think I've fallen and I can't get up!" But, usually I do manage to get up by myself and I've only broken one bone so far - my hand last year walking our giant dog...I think just being conscious and paying attention is key.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Dick Van Dyke clip as well as Julie Andrews - very sentimental!

Leslie: said...

What a wonderful post! I remember that commercial and the consequent fun we had with the punchline. Also enjoyed hearing Julie Andrews sing. :D

Tumblewords: said...

Glad to hear your mother wasn't injured in the fall. The photos are gorgeous...Dick Van Dyke offered some very funny falls, for sure! Good post...

kikamz said...

a very fascinating post! too bad you couldn't FIND your own set of FOTOs!

April said...

I'm glad your mother is okay. This is quite an interesting and broad topic. The photos are great.

Grace and Bradley said...

Wow, an well written essay for FALL and nice pictures to go with it.

Reader Wil said...

Your fall photos are all very great! The waterfall is gorgeous and the autumn leaves are very colourful. Funny that autumn is called fall in the States. But fall is actually a better name.
Falling in the middle of the night is bad. My mum fell in the bathroom and crawled to her bed, but we urged her to wear that pendant you mentioned, but she didn't like the thing. How is your mum? I hope she'll be better now.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

You covered the word FALL very well in photos and in words!

jay said...

You might not have been able to find those photos, but you did a wonderful job without them!

I thoroughly enjoyed this one - both entertaining and informative, and with both a funny and a serious message! And I love the picture of the fallen leaves. Just beautiful.

Rose said...

Great choices for the letter F! I remember the commercial you mentioned, and it's so true. It unintentionally made a joke of what is a very serious situation for many seniors. I hope your mother is doing well.

Joy said...

So many meanings you managed to get in this post. Waterfalls are always lovely and your photo capture this well. Falls can be funny, I say this as a person whose had a fair share, but falls for the elderly are always a worry and can effect their confidence.

~JarieLyn~ said...

Falling......Chevy Chase seems to tumble quite a bit in his comedic stints. Great post. Very interesting, and your first picture is phenomenal. I love water falls.

Q said...

Creative f post. Now am thinking about the many falls I have taken.
Glad your Mother is okay.
Sherry

Lin said...

Great post! At my age, I'm afraid of falling and breaking a bone. Have fallen down the stairs, backwards, tripped and fell on the open dishwasher, breaking the door. Last summer fell off my bike and ended up overnight in the hospital with a concussion and 3 stitches in my eyebrow. Not funny to fall!

Ann said...

Hope your mum is fine despite the fall.

I love the water fall. I go to a lot of them because I fell in love with a water engineer.

Irene Toh said...

Thoughtful F. Good to know your mum's fine.

Martha in PA said...

Thanks for stopping by! Love Dick Van Dyke! I'm glad your mother is okay! Mine is 85, and we are now living together - 3 generations of girls... anticipating the time that there may be falls! I can't wait for fall after living in FL for 6 years. Fall in Albany is beautiful!