When dignity comes second

Peter Leith is 90 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he is a fierce advocate and critic, and a great observer of life. Here, he tackles stairs and why stairs should never end up being a ‘stairway to heaven’.

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When people, who know my age and that I am legally blind, comment, flatteringly, on my willingness to climb steps, I feel that I am ‘sailing under false colours’.

The standard comment from well-meaning friends (and strangers) usually includes the words, “you are doing very well for your age”. I always wonder what would constitute “doing badly for my age”?

They do not realise that, given a good handrail, it is quite difficult to fall up stairs! If one does stumble, leaning forward and even lying down avoids an undignified, painful and probably fatal fall down the stairs.

Descending stairs is a very different kettle of fish. Extreme caution is always required. Prudence and cowardice, sometimes dictate that one sits on the top step and moves one’s bottom downwards one step at a time. Not pretty or elegant but safe!

One should, at all times, remember that – for older people – falls are one of the biggest killers. Not cheerful, but worth remembering.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith

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