Winter Accidents That Occur To Middle-aged, Elderly Folk
( Originally Published 1936 )
Winter is a particularly dangerous time. Accidents are likely to be more frequent in the winter for a number of reasons. In the first place, of course, the presence of ice and snow and slippery streets all conduce to falls and consequent bone fractures, or dislocations, or sprains.
The dim light of winter, the early twilight, makes winter a dangerous period for middle-aged and elderly people whose eyesight is rather dim anyway. Besides this, they are more liable to be indoors and to set themselves little duties which involve going down into the cellar or up into the attic. Falls on cellar stairs are about three times as frequent in the winter as in the summer, and about four times as frequent in people over middle-age.
It is a great deal less expensive to repair the cellar steps, put a handrail on them, and provide adequate lighting, than it is to pay for the accident which might result from neglect of these precautions.
Serious falls are also caused by using substitutes for step-ladders, or by using step-ladders themselves and getting in a precarious position. Rocking chairs, chairs with weak legs, seem to attract the house-wife who desires to reach up on a high shelf, with a sort of fatal lure.
And then, a thing that middle-aged people seem to like to want to do is to get up on a table. This requires considerable acrobatic skill, even in a young person. For a middle-aged or elderly person to do it is a real feat, and unless one likes to run a definite risk of fracture or dislocation, or both, it should be avoided. Saving the time and trouble to get a good ladder often means the expenditure of a great deal more time and the presence of a great deal more trouble later on.
A young friend of mine told me last month, when he saw me doing some rather strenuous acrobatics of a social nature—in fact, dancing—that I ought to get next to myself. It was a bitter pill to take from a 15-year-old, but I am inclined to believe it is a good lesson.
Why middle-aged people want to do all the fool things they do is a puzzle. They can't see the fine lines in their own hands held within a foot of their faces, they can't recognize a person a block away on the street, and they probably can't hear more than one-third of the warning sounds that a young person hears. They get dizzy when they get up on a high place or bend over or exert themselves unusually, and yet they persist in pitching and lurching around the streets, climbing up on high ladders and going down into dark cellars, walking perilously around on winter days, as if they had the eyes and the ears and the vestibular apparatus of a 10-year-old child.