An Elderly Man Fell on the Street

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 25th, 2009 • Patient AdvocacyPrint Print

I just went to a convenience store a couple of blocks away from my hotel, to get some eye drops. I ran out of them tonight, and since the liquid nitrogen incident, I can’t be without them. On my way back to the hotel, I saw an elderly man on his knees in the street, bent over the sidewalk. I asked if he needed help, and he said yes.

I knew it could hurt me to lift him up. So I looked around for someone else. I noticed a man in a truck, stopped at a red light at the corner, watching the scene. He asked if the elderly man needed help. I said yes, so the man in the truck came and helped stabilize the elderly man, so that the elderly man was on his knees on the sidewalk. The man from the truck was holding the elderly man’s back, so that the elderly man wouldn’t fall over into the street.

The elderly man said he didn’t know where he was or where he lived. He didn’t want me to call the ambulance. I wanted to honor that, being that I know how traumatic the medical system in general and hospitals in particular can be, but I did not want to leave a man lying around not knowing where he was or where he lived. I thought at least the paramedics could check him out. I asked the man from the truck what he thought, and he advised calling the ambulance.

The elderly man protested and said he wanted to go home. He kept saying he was OK. He became able to give the address where he lived. I asked if there was anyone there who could take care of him, and he said no, that his wife had just died.

The man from the truck was very caring, and it was touching. He helped the elderly man stand on his feet and held the elderly man until the police showed up. The police then took over holding the elderly man, and the man from the truck left. I stuck around, because I wanted to give the elderly man money for a cab ride in case he didn’t want to go to the hospital.

The police were very nice and caring, which impressed and pleased me. The ambulance arrived, and I was having trouble staying there, because the flashing lights were hurting my eyes. The paramedics came out, and the head paramedic was quite gruff. In most of my experiences with ambulances, the majority of paramedics were assholes. This guy was no exception.

The elderly many kept saying he wanted to go home. The paramedic said, “You can’t go home when you can’t even walk.” I felt really bad for the elderly man. Given what I saw my mom go through recently, I hated to think how frightening it might be for him in the hospital. But I think it was probably less dangerous than him going home alone. I think that on top of everything else, he was drunk.

The lights continued to hurt my eyes, and it seemed the man was not taking a cab ride home. I told the police officer that I was in the hotel one building down and gave him my room number, saying I’d be happy to pay the cab fare if the elderly man went home. I came back to the hotel room and saw the lights still flashing below. A few minutes ago, the siren sounded, and the lights were no longer there. I guess they took the elderly man to the hospital. I pray that he will be alright and that he will heal from this double trauma.


Just what’s the main difference between a nursing home and an assisted living facility? Or are the terms interchangeable?

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