Copyright © 2004 Henrietta W. Hay
Watch Your Step
July 2, 2004
I learned something new last week. I have to learn how to be 90. At
least I have to learn to walk more slowly and to watch where to put my
feet when I am in motion. I was heading for my Tuesday morning coffee
shop, and I was walking across he pavement with nary a care in the
world. But suddenly a 6 inch curb doubled in height. I think. Surely
I could not have missed seeing it. In any case my feet stopped, and the
rest of me did not and my face was resting on the sidewalk. There was
no one around, but a few seconds later one of the men from the
Republican table came out the door. After he helped me up and got me to
a chair he commented that was the first time he had seen a Democrat
lying on the sidewalk.
That was the morning that we had invited Gayle Berry to sit at our
Democratic table and I didn't want to miss the fun, so I staggered in
and had my coffee. By the time I got home I realized I need a bit more
help and finished the morning with doctors and X-rays. No broken
bones, but a torn AC ligament and bruises.
What was really injured was my dignity, which was badly damaged. But as
if that wasn't enough, three days later I walked into a post and went
down on my back. That put bruises front and back. Fortunately the
condo Maintenance Manager was standing right there and he helped me up,
helped me into the house, stanched the bleeding elbow and kept looking
into my eyes to be sure I didn't have a concussion. Actually, my
experience has been that help usually comes when you need it. And I
have certainly had a lot the past two weeks.
Looking back after a week of discomfort, I realize how rare and lucky
it is for a 90 year old to fall twice and not break a bone. My friend
the philosopher calls me a tough old broad.
Falls are one of the most common causes of serious physical injury in
older people. In fact the National Center for Injury Prevention and
Control says that In the United States, every year one of every three
persons age 65 and over falls, and falls are the leading cause of injury
deaths and the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma.
Falls are not just the result of getting older. Mine were the result of
forgetting I am getting older. Many falls can be prevented. The C. D.
C. has issued what they call a Tool Kit to Prevent Senior Falls, which
gives some very practical suggestions. You can reduce your chances of
falling by doing these things:
1. Begin a regular exercise program.
2. Make your home safer.
3. Have your health care provider review your medicines.
4. Have your vision checked.
I would add two more. Watch out for curbs They're tricky. And have
lots of friends. They're wonderful. Thanks to all of them.
You can find the full text of the Tool Kit on the web at
I think if Martina Navratilova can bounce back at 49 and win her
first match at Wimbledon when she hasn't played a tournament match in
10 years, surely I can learn to avoid the pitfalls of being 90 and
avoid taking another fall.
Hang in, you seniors, watch where you are going and stay upright.