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Old 02-13-2015, 08:00 AM
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,737,509 times
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I was talking to the bookkeeper at our property management company, a very competent and very nice woman who is probably about 40. I mentioned that I was doing a lot of the exterior painting myself because I enjoy it and it saves the association money. She said, "You don't get up on ladders, do you?" When I responded in the affirmative, she had a look of horror on her face and admonished me to be careful.

I don't think I look particularly frail, and I certainly don't stagger around as if I had balance problems. She knows I am 70 and I think just the idea freaked her out, but that doesn't make sense to me and I don't understand it.

At age 70 I feel just as secure up on a ladder as I have felt at any age, although there is a limit to how high I will go. We have a 16-foot extension ladder on which I feel totally comfortable near the top when it is at full extension. But when I watched our handyman near the top of a MUCH longer ladder at the roof line three stories up, I thought to myself "not for me, thanks". Likewise when he put on a harness and rappelled down a steep part of the roof. I am absolutely not Joe Fearless.

Now if a retiree has balance issues, I agree that it would be foolish to be up on a ladder. There is no point in trying to prove something and getting injured. But what is the deal about acquiescing in being crippled/disabled before one actually is? The fear of ladders seems to be rather prevalent and I am wondering how to explain it.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:08 AM
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
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Funny you wrote this because as I get older I have developed a fear of heights. We bought this old house 12 years ago when I was in my early 40's and I got up to the peak a few times with a ladder. Now I have this line that appears out of nowhere right at the second story window. When I get to that height I totally freeze up and can not go further without panic. I look at that peak now and you couldn't pay me enough to get up there today.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:20 AM
Location: Northern panhandle WV
3,007 posts, read 2,171,440 times
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There is no reason for phobias, and that is what it sounds like she has, I have two, fear of Dogs and fear of Lightening. When there is a thunder storm my heart races and I almost stop breathing. Logically I know that there is no reason, does not stop the fear or physical reactions.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:28 AM
Location: Wayward Pines,ID
1,870 posts, read 3,443,384 times
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Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post

At age 70 I feel just as secure up on a ladder as I have felt at any age.
Do you think your initial exposure had anything to do with it? My uncle was a house painter and I worked with him at a young age. I do not think much about scooting up ladders, kinda like riding as bicycle? I would no longer do some of the things we used to like lashing two ladders together to make a really long one.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:33 AM
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Remember learning about Maslowe's hierarchy of needs? As we age, our safety needs increase. So logically, being smart enough to recognize the risk of being on ladders, we adjust our concerns. I am 64 years old and routinely go on ladders including an extension ladder to paint my house or to trim trees. To increase my safety, I purchased one of those very heavy, expensive Werner aluminum ladders. It's a bit difficult to move around extended but it is very stable. The more you become accustomed to heights and working on a ladder, the easier it is. In fact, when doing a few days of ladder work, I notice I become much more agile and my balance is even better. Might make it part of my workout routine!
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:35 AM
Location: middle tennessee
1,924 posts, read 989,259 times
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it's not actually a fear of ladders, unless you dream about ladders chasing you or hiding in your closet. It's fearing the consequences of falling off the ladder.

Falling itself is surreal. You're upright, you're in the air, you're on the ground. It puts the fear in you. Seeing someone fall is almost as bad.

Babies are born with a natural fear of falling.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:45 AM
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I worked as a lineman for some time and generally felt safe,ladders in them selves for the most part are dangerous,people do not use care when placing them and do not test for stability.
Remember,it is not the fall that hurts you,it is the sudden stop.Also as we age balance becomes a factor.I am leery on a ladder as a senior.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:54 AM
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At about age 60, I had a ladder slip and I fell about 5' and landed on my butt. Somehow I also hit my ankle and broke it. Ladders are dangerous at any age. I should have been more cautious and made sure the ladder was not likely to slip.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:55 AM
Location: Loudon, TN
5,783 posts, read 4,836,241 times
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Dh is afraid of heights over about 12 feet, so I've always been the ladder climber as I have little fear. One thing that I have noticed is the fact that as we pack on weight around our middle as we age (or even when young) we become top heavy and much more prone to fall in any situation where balance is important. I notice this now when hiking and need to use a hiking stick when crossing a stream on a log. I use to run like a billy goat everywhere, mountains, rooftops, etc, now I carefully place my feet and make sure that I have my balance. This top heavy business has proven great fodder for America's Funniest Videos.
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Old 02-13-2015, 09:27 AM
48,516 posts, read 83,932,349 times
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I think she is aware that in older people falling off latters is a common thing; even if not fearing them. Older people just do not reacted as fast as when younger altho we hate to admit it.
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