Comment

Advice to walk like a penguin was bound to bring cold comfort

Health advice is given with good intentions, but telling older people to walk like penguins during the big freeze was never going to go down well, says Jane Bates

Health advice is given with good intentions, but telling older people to walk like penguins during the big freeze was never going to go down well, says Jane Bates


Picture: iStock

I was on leave in the week of the big freeze, and it left me feeling frustrated. Travel disruption, the cancellation of a much-anticipated jolly with some old nursing friends and the postponement of a big charity event we had been planning for months – all on account of the weather.

But the greatest disappointment of all was that no one I knew took up the latest health advice to walk like a penguin. To avoid broken hips and wrists, we were told, older folk should think Antarctic – arms out to the side, feet flat on the ground and a rolling waddle.

I tried it myself, but as no one flung me a dead herring I must have failed to get the motion right.

Cheering up in testing times

Health advice, often aimed at the elderly, almost inevitably ends up the subject of derision. I sometimes wonder if that’s what it’s for, to cheer us up in testing times.

‘Thank goodness they are telling us to wrap up and stay warm,’ one older patient said. ‘I never would have thought of that myself.’

This generation could never be called ‘snowflakes’ – they have lived through far harsher winters than we are used to now, and know all too well how to cope when the chill sets in.

Never mind teaching your grandmother to suck eggs. Telling her to put on an extra woolly and walk like a penguin was never going to go down well.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs