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Elderly Man Walking on the Street

Source: Article on “Walking Speed in Late Life Linked to Dementia Risk: Research” (www.united-academics.org)


While I was waiting at a bus stop, an elderly man fell on the sidewalk a block away. Falling face forward, he struggled to get up from the ground. I ran towards him.  When I reached him, he had managed to sit up. Confused and shaken, he asked me to help him up. As he was small in stature and similar in height, I had no difficulty in helping him to his feet.

“Are you okay, sir?” I asked.

“Don’t know what happened.” Clutching a small brown paper bag in one hand, he clung to my arm with his other hand.

“Do you live nearby? Should I call an ambulance?”

“Don’t need an ambulance. I live a few blocks away.” Strands of thinning brown hair hung over his dull, light brown eyes.

“You’re too shaken to walk home alone,” I told him. “I can take you home. Is that okay with you?

He agreed.

With the elderly man clinging to my arm, I set out on the slow walk to his home, stopping twice for him to rest. He had gone to buy nails at the hardware store, over six blocks away from the corner where he fell.

“I used to drive,” he said. “But that woman at DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) refused to renew my driver’s license. My car’s just sitting there in the driveway.”

He lived alone after his wife of over forty years died two years ago. His son resided miles away in another city in Southern California.

“I miss her,” he said. “Life has not been the same without her.”

Five blocks later, I was relieved when we arrived safely at his home on a quiet and deserted cul-de-sac. A lime-green 1960s Chevrolet stood in the open driveway. While I held the paper bag, he fumbled for about five minutes in all of his pants and shirt pockets for the front-door key. After opening the door, he invited me in to see his home. I thanked him, but declined.  “I have a dental appointment. You should call your son and tell him what happened. It’s not good for you to go walking alone.”

On the way to the nearest bus stop, I called the dental clinic to inform them that I would be late for my appointment. Later, at the dental clinic, I explained the reason for my tardiness to the clerk at the front desk. The Latino woman in her forties cautioned me not to do such a thing again.

“You should’ve called the police. What if the man or his son sues you for injuries?”

“People do that?” I asked her.

In the waiting room, I thought of my elderly mother who lived alone in another city over an hour’s drive away. If she should ever fall on the sidewalk, would my mother be left lying on the street?