Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | November 17, 2014

Define “Old”

Chief complaint: “I’m concerned about my balance.”

Further questioning reveals a subjective complaint of “wobbliness.” Has never fallen. No vertigo. Romberg testing is negative (standing with feet together and eyes closed sways only a little). Neurologic exam is normal.

I gently suggest that he try using a cane, mainly for reassurance while walking.

“Oh, Doctor. I don’t want to do that.”

Why not?

“It’ll make me look like an old man.”

Uh, sir: you’re 88. I think that ship has sailed.



  1. Yes, I have family members complaining that all the retirement communities are full of “older people” [the people speaking are in their mid-eighties]…. I think what they mean is “infirm”, which is something that could happen [physically or intellectually] at any age…

  2. When my step-grandmother was 77 and living in a retirement community, she complained about the “little old ladies” who kept following her around, wanting her to do things for them. She had white hair, many wrinkles and was about 4-foot-9. But she was talking about women in their 90s, so from her perspective, *they* were little old ladies!

  3. My father in law, who is 88, won’t go to the grocery on senior day… to many “old people.”

  4. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to ask about what medicines (and the doses) he is taking that could be affecting his balance….

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