Spotlight on Safety

Marilyn Faber wrote the part of a lifetime for herself and four other actors—literally.

Commissioned to write, direct and star in The Falling Monologues by The Fall Prevention Coalition-Los Angeles (FPC-LA), coordinated by USC’s own Fall Prevention Center of Excellence (FPCE), Faber created an innovative production that uses real-life stories and scenarios to empower older adults to face a very real danger-the risk of falls.

“It’s very serious when you fall-once you have a fracture, it’s bad news or worse,” Faber said. “Knowing I could help people really motivated me and gave me a tremendous sense of gratification.”

“The Monologues are important since they feature seniors talking about actual experiences that other seniors can relate to,” said Helen Davis of the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging and producer of local public access program Aging Well in LA on Channel 35. “Falls are a major cause of serious injuries and hospitalization among the senior population, and it is important that we continue to seek fresh and innovative ways to disseminate fall prevention information and resources.”

Alongside Faber, the production starred Richard Attwill, Shirley Dougherty, Marcia Kassan and Lois Liebhaber, longtime actors who found multiple reasons to count their participation as one of their favorite roles.

“It was so meaningful, especially to those of us who live alone,” Dougherty said. “We never think [a fall] will happen to us, so this was a much-needed project.”

“It’s an important subject for all seniors and the message is essential. I’m eager to do anything I can to assist people,” Attwill said. “I felt pretty unique as the only male in the cast, but being surrounded by women is always fun. I wish it were the case all the time.”

Inspired by their experience, each cast member made changes in their own lives-including installing grab-bars in the bathroom, securing all loose rugs with gripping tape and holding their dog’s leash with both hands on walks-that they hope viewers will take to heart as well.

In fact, the Monologues touched the cast more closely than even they expected.

“I know people who have fallen and some were really hurt,” Faber said. “That just reiterated to me why it was so important to do this. There’s nothing funny about falling, but I tried to lighten the tone of the Monologues to make the medicine go down.”

That sense of vitality, warmth and empathy runs through the Monologues and provides comic relief for a serious topic as well as a great conversation starter for audiences, who may not be aware of these issues, or the resources available to them.

“Seniors conveying important messages to their peers is our most successful and powerful approach to keeping the aging population engaged, informed, happy and healthy,” said Davis. “With the nation’s largest senior population, L.A. has a wealth of high quality service providers, agencies, and organizations dedicated to assisting seniors and their family caregivers. Let’s use them so we don’t lose them.”

Check your local listings for upcoming viewings of The Falling Monologues on LA CityView (Channel 35) and view it on YouTube. For additional information about fall prevention, visit the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence’s website at www.stopfalls.org. For services and programs, contact the Department of Aging (aging.lacity.org or 213-252-4000).