Episode Ten: Bruno and Alice: A Love Story in Twelve Parts About Seniors and Safety – Hey Bruno, your slip is showing!

I have never thought of myself as pushy, and "Velvet Bulldozer"—the nickname they gave me at work years ago—never made much sense to me. I'm pretty diplomatic but I'm not afraid to speak my mind when there's something on it.

Spending more time with Bruno offered me a few opportunities to get to that point in a hurry. Bruno is funny, caring and creative but, frankly, he was a bit of a slob when I first met him, not to mention slightly distracted. I like to be comfortable in my environment, and being over at Bruno's more forced me to think about just what makes me comfortable.

I got Bruno to improve the lighting and fix up the stairs. He even got the back deck repaired—all things that made the place look better and made it safer. But it never occurred to us then to make a simple improvement that could have saved us a great deal of anguish and upset.

One night in June, Bruno and I were out on his back deck skywatching (there is a certain leisure to retirement). We heard the front doorbell ring and Bruno leapt up to answer it. He's a pretty nimble thing at 75, and no one could ever accuse him of slowing down!

Just seconds after he disappeared from sight I heard a great crash and a yell. I ran in to see what had happened and saw Bruno, flat on his back in front of the door, the broken umbrella stand scattered all around him. Bruno's daughter was trying to get in to help him but Bruno's body had pinned the door shut.

The reason for the fall lay right beside him—a lovely Persian throw rug that probably had been in the hallway for decades. The bottom of it was worn smooth after years of use and the rug would take off across the floor whenever you so much as looked at it. And Bruno had hit it at the wrong angle.

I felt terrible. We should have known better. Rugs and mats are classic culprits in many falls at home and, since he wouldn't throw this one out, I decided to pick up a sheet of non-slip underlay at the hardware store. We should have thought of it before because, when he stepped on that rug, Bruno didn't get the traction he needed. But, after spending the night in Emergency, traction was exactly what he got.


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