Bicycle injuries rising among older riders

She was just going out for a short bike ride around her neighborhood. It didn’t seem necessary to carry an ID, or even wear a helmet. Ten minutes later she was found lying in the dirt unconscious near a bike path. The bystander who found her, called 911 and an ambulance arrived soon afterwards. Then a kind Emergency Medical Technician whisked her off to the emergency room with her mind constantly weaving in and out of consciousness. After numerous X-rays and cat scans she ended up in the neuro unit of the hospital for observation.

This is a true story.  It happened to me back in 2008 in Fort Collins. My own tumble over the handle bars and into a nasty bike accident, led to fractured ribs, an injured wrist and thigh, and a traumatic brain injury.

This is my warning to you who think riding a bike is still as easy as climbing back on again. 

Injuries among older riders have jumped dramatically in recent years. Between 1998 and 2013, bike injuries among all adults over the age of 18 increased 28 percent, while hospital admissions jumped 120 percent. Head traumas went from 10 percent to 16 percent of all injuries in the same period.

Older bicyclists fueled much of that increase in injuries, especially ones that required an emergency room visit. Injuries among those 45+ jumped 81 percent and hospital admissions increased 66 percent, from 39 percent to 65 percent of total injuries. While death rates for cyclists younger than 15 fell by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, death rates for cyclists between the ages of 35 and 74 showed a large increase, according to CDC data.

While I do not want to discourage you from healthy exercise as you age, be careful out there! I feel the effects of my brain injury everyday, especially when I write or speak with others. My memory is definitely not the same and it also completely depends on what area of the brain you injure.  I find I tire quickly in social situations, and the first sign that I am getting overwhelmed is when I cannot think of the proper word for something, a difficult feeling for one who has always been proud of her ability with words.

mandala head chakra photo

On the flip side, my brain injuries (yes I suffered a second concussion after we moved in here!) have taught me to slow down, meditate more, and enjoy each moment as it arrives.

Besides now living in a quiet and contemplative part of Colorado, I have learned some wonderful relaxation techniques that are quite FUN regardless of your brain injury status.

Take care of that old personal computer up there! You only get one.

Proper care of an injured or ill friend


brain-cogsI am now busy copying my favorite posts from my old blog called “Midlife Crisis Queen” as I have decided to close it down soon. I guess my midlife crisis is safely behind me now… I wrote this post a week or so after my bike accident in 2008, where I suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured ribs, etc. Good advice to those of you who care for those with any bad injuries.

Having recently gone through the harrowing experience of a serious bike accident and its aftermath, I thought you might all benefit from some top do’s and don’ts when someone you love is injured or becomes seriously ill.

  1. Do something. Say something. Don’t do or say nothing! BTW, an e-mail is nothing.

  2. Do encourage your friend’s strength, spirit and efforts as they try to recover. Don’t minimize their efforts by saying trite things like: “A positive attitude is everything.”

  3. Do help your friend communicate with others if they request it. In my case I was not able to communicate with my friends how disabled I was for a few weeks.

  4. Do allow your friend to set the mood and limits around them. If they need to talk, go with that. Don’t impose your mood or fears upon them. Respect their limits in the amount of time they can handle spending with others.

  5. Do bring cards, food, flowers, videos, etc. to cheer the person up, assist them, and make them feel loved and appreciated.

  6. Do include your friend in events or activities they might be able to enjoy. It can get mighty lonely and discouraging spending days on end alone and aching.

  7. Do acknowledge their physical changes or disabilities; don’t just ignore them or talk around them.

  8. Do offer specific help. Don’t wait for the injured person to ask. If they have experienced a serious injury or concussion, it may not even occur to them to ask. Call them and visit when necessary to offer assistance.

  9. Do ask sincerely and specifically about what they have gone through, and allow them to talk about their experience quietly. Listening may be your best skill at this point in time. Severe illness and injury is traumatic, and should be processed emotionally as needed. There are aspects of PTSD related to most serious accidents. Be open to helping your friend recover memories of the experience that they may have forgotten, process bad dreams surrounding their experience, etc.

baby-boomer-social-security-cardIt seems that many of us boomers may have lost the fine art of empathy and compassion necessary to care for friends who are ill or injured. This will not serve us, as we age and start to need to depend more heavily on our friends and loved ones for assistance.