Two men looked through the bars. One saw mud and one saw stars. That sounds pretty fundamental when heard by members of “the Greatest Generation” as labeled by Tom Brokaw.
And yet one wonders if they had better protoplasm, better genes, or better DNA than previous generations. Or was it related to their background, with a large percentage of them raised in farming communities or on farms during the Great Depression. At that time, the farm family lived quite well, nothing to eat except ham, eggs, chicken, beef, vegetables, fruit, milk, butter, potatoes, wheat bread, corn bread, and a few minor things like that. But in order to get this from the farm lot to the table, everybody had to work, both young and old. If the young were too young to cut wood to cook with, they could at least tote the wood to the house daily. And in the winter time it took a lot of wood in the fire place to keep reasonably warm.
If one was lucky enough to have a paper route, he had money to buy his clothes. Work on the farm for 10 cents or 20 cents per hour did not accumulate money fast, but everybody worked. If no other work was available, then young men could work on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps camps, which paid $30 a month plus food and housing, with $25 of the $30 being sent to their parents. The idea was not to create the Blue Ridge Parkway, but to create jobs. And then with good planning, the CCC left the Blue Ridge Parkway as a thing of beauty for generations to come.
This learning to work at an early age may have helped create “the Greatest Generation.” Some of you did that so well that you were known as hard-headed or even bull-headed, to the extent that “come rain or come snow, the mail must go through.”
As you begin to make room for the Boomer generation who are beginning to mature about now, maybe you should slow down and think a little bit. “Sticks and stones may break my bones” is an old adage but still true. The problem is you never saw a stick or stone hanging from a star, but they are often covered with mud. Maybe you need to compromise and keep one eye on the star and one on the mud.
Each year, about one in every three Americans takes a tumble and the chances increase even more in one’s 80s and 90s. Between 5 and 10 percent of falls among older people result in major physical injury, broken bones, cuts, damage to the head, hip fractures, etc. Roughly 18,000 older Americans die each year from falls.
The article further states that people who wear shoes indoors are less likely to suffer a serious injury from a fall than those who paddle around in slippers or socks or go barefoot.
If Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” could ease off with their pride and be more docile instead of so bull-headed, they could change some of these statistics markedly.
A few simple rules would help:
— Admit that you are not the young buck that you once were.
— Put up grab bars in and around the shower and other places where needed.
— Install handrails everywhere there is a step up or down. You probably will do this someday. Why not go ahead and do it before you fall?
— Hire some kid to clean the gutters. That’s worth something to the rest of the family in peace of mind. If you just must prove that you’ve still got it, go to the golf course and shoot your age.
— Scatter those scatter rugs among the young neighbors.
— Do not wait for some doctor to tell you to use a cane. You already know it is a safety measure. Use it.
— Have some light for night walking. Even better, put a urinal beside the bed, sit on the side of the bed and use it. Then make one trip in the morning to the bathroom and take it all at one time. (Remember that there are urinals adapted for females.)
— Push all of those electrical cords under some furniture or cover them with the throw rug that you kept.
In reference to those 18,000 deaths per year from falls: If you can be a little less bull-headed and a little smarter, maybe that 18,000 can be cut by 10 percent. That will be 1,800 lives saved per year.
“I like my bifocals,
My dentures fit me fine,
My hearing aid is perfect,
But, oh, how I miss my mind.”
Now if somebody will give me a hand to help me out of this chair, I’ll say thank you and good night.
— Dr. Bruce B. Blackmon is a member of the nonagenarian club.