I remember clearly an encounter with a patient who was about to turn 100 years old.

Pain had developed in her right knee a few days before, and wasn’t getting much better.

I asked what she thought was causing it.

Patient        I’m not getting any younger. What do you expect at my age?

Dr. Stall      How is your left knee?

Patient        Fine, why do you ask?

Dr. Stall      Just wondering why that knee doesn’t hurt too. Isn’t it the same age as your right knee?

She smiled and understood what I meant. I suggested a mild pain reliever, warm soaks to the painful knee, and rest. By the next week, she was back to baseline.

Think about it. Often. I do. It keeps me on the right track when I try to help my older patients.

Don’t sell older people short. There is always something that can be done to help an older person lead a happier, more functional life, even in extreme old age.

© Robert Stall MD / OldSmarts LLC

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