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Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older?

It is hard to be sure but it seems to be so for me. And it is really annoying.

For example, one day last week, I dropped a spoon on the kitchen floor. I picked it up, rinsed it off and as I reached for the towel, I dropped in again. Damn.

A day or two before that, I had dropped the shampoo bottle in the shower – a new, full one that barely missed my toes. Later that day, I dropped the two-quart, plastic box where I store the cat's dry food, scattering it all over the kitchen. Damn again.

Not long ago, I dropped a nine-inch butcher knife – that one could have been disastrous – but on another day I was lucky to be standing on a carpet when I dropped my mobile phone so it didn't break.

None of these occurrences is important individually and probably not even in their proximity to one another. But they made me wonder if dropping stuff is a “thing” with old people. So I took to the internet.

There is a lot of unsourced and untrustworthy health information online and that is always dangerous for “low information viewers,” as it were. The first I found was a large number of forums where people with no expertise were freely offering their uninformed opinions.

In answer to inquiries about dropping things, many instantly went to fear-mongering: Based on nothing at all, they advised people to see a doctor right away because it could be an early symptom of MS, ALS, Huntington's disease and more.

That's nuts. Those were anonymous forums, for god's sake. I hope no one takes them seriously.

Digging deeper at more reputable websites, I found that sometimes dropping things can be among the symptoms of serious disease but only one symptom, a minor one among dozens of others anyone would notice long before worrying about dropping something.

Checking further, I found that dropping things is not a big enough issue with growing old to warrant much notice.

In fact, a webpage of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for training elder home staff is the only direct mention of elders dropping things I found.

”The sense of touch changes,” they report. “In older adults the sense of touch may decrease as skin loses sensitivity. Pressure, pain, cold and heat do not feel the same as they used to feel. Decreases in touch sensitivity may cause residents to drop things.”

That reference to skin losing sensitivity reminded me that a few years ago, I discovered through personal experience that old people often cannot be fingerprinted, particulalry with electronic scanners, because their fingerprints are worn off.

When I wrote about that here three years ago, I quoted Scientific American magazine:

”...the elasticity of skin decreases with age, so a lot of senior citizens have prints that are difficult to capture. The ridges get thicker; the height between the top of the ridge and the bottom of the furrow gets narrow, so there's less prominence. So if there's any pressure at all [on the scanner], the print just tends to smear.”

That would certainly affect sense of touch and the ability to know if you are holding things tightly enough. A report from Oregon State University [pdf] concurs with Pennsylvania report supplying a bit more medical information:

”With aging, sensations may be reduced or changed. These changes can occur because of decreased blood flow to the nerve endings or to the spinal cord or brain. The spinal cord transmits nerve signals and the brain interprets these signals.

“Health problems, such as a lack of certain nutrients, can also cause sensation changes. Brain surgery, problems in the brain, confusion, and nerve damage from injury or chronic diseases such as diabetes can also result in sensation changes.”

I finally found the most pertinent answer to my question at The New York Times. Noting that fine touch may decrease in old age,

“Many studies have shown that with aging, you may have reduced or changed sensations of pain, vibration, cold, heat, pressure, and touch. It is hard to tell whether these changes are related to aging itself or to the disorders that occur more often in the elderly...”

This Times information is quoted from A.D.A.M., a private source of medical information for health professionals and other paid subscribers.

So what I have deduced from two or three hours on the internet is that barring injury or disease or, perhaps, waning strength that affects one's ability to grip strongly, maybe elders do drop things more frequently.

Maybe a diminishing sense of touch in general means that we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger. At least, that's what I choose to believe for myself until someone enlightens me further.

Following on that, for the past few days I have been making a conscious effort to be sure I am holding whatever is in my hand tightly enough that it will not slip.

I want that to become second nature because the knife I mentioned was a close call and I certainly don't want to drop a cup of hot coffee on my foot or the cat.

Does any of this ring a bell for you?


I'm glad I read this! I have noticed that I drop things more often lately. It bothered me but it never occurred to me to worry about it being a symptom of something serious. I love knowing what is causing it, though. The loss of sensitivity to touch and pressure makes sense and I guess it's time to start making sure when I'm carrying things like hot coffee that I take safety steps like using two hands---one on the handle and up underneath. Knowledge is power to prevent accidents.

I have always been somewhat klutzy but I do think I drop things more frequently and I seem to be more prone to accidentally knocking things over if I'm not really careful.

The fact of arthritic hands is another cause for not gripping tightly enough. It is difficult for me to hold change in my hands (making a fist) without at least a penny or dime falling out.

My hands have become holey.

S C Jones...
Good point about arthritis. I read about that while researching this and cannot account for what happened between note taking and writing. Oh, dear. Short term memory again.

Absolutely! Before my cataract surgery, I constantly thought i had something over a surface, but when i let go to put it down it would plop straight to the floor.

No, i just have less of a grip, arthritis i guess. And I do believe some carpal tunnel involved, from all those days at the keypunch machine and manual typewriters for hours on end.

I've been on a downsizing kick - I just donated all my glassware. It's plastic cups only for me now! Dishware is Corelle, although that stuff splits into knife-like chards that are dangerous. Even my wine glasses are acrylic, and stemless.

It seems I have to protect myself from myself these days:)

Also, when something falls on the floor, there it stays for a while, unless it's food. Bending over to retrieve things just doesn't work, especially in the morning!

On Ronnie's note of dropping a shampoo bottle - I like to hunt for seaglass in season, and one of my finds was the imprinted rectangular bottle bottom from 15 oz bottle of Breck Shampoo. Remember glass shampoo bottles?

Thank you for this posting! I do drop things more often, and I'm glad to know there is a reason other than oncoming mental deterioration (my greatest fear). Making a fist is much more difficult than it used to be, and my left hand has definitely lost some dexterity. OK, so now I will adopt your approach, Ronni, and consciously focus on getting a good grip. Not a bad approach to life in general.

Good topic which reassures me what I have been thinking is probably correct. Painful, at times stiff hands can challenge your sense of grip. I often think I have a secure hold on an item only to have it slip through my hands. Haven't noticed a reduced sense of touch, but perhaps it is only negligible for now. I try to be careful to compensate, but accidents continue to happen.

Good luck and perseverance to us all.

Yes! I am 69. I don't have painful arthritis in my hands, or any other disease that I know of, but I drop things all the time. Usually it is a lightweight thing. It is as if I can't get a proper grip, and whatever it is just slips out of my fingers.

I have found this to be more irritating than disturbing though.

I had not heard that older people can't be fingerprinted. I can report that I can't get my IPad fingerprint ID to work, though.

I've dropped knives even occasionally when I was younger. I make sure to get a good grip on my good chef's knife now when I take it out of the drawer.

Does anyone have a work around for this? Do we just need a different mental understanding of grabbing and gripping?

Yes, definitely, dropping things more in the last year or so. No strength in the hands, like before, and have to find gadgets - like jar openers - to compensate. I, too, have arthritic hands with loss of dexterity and sensitivity and have to focus much more on what I'm doing, especially in the kitchen.

I haven't noticed that I tend to drop things more as I grow older. I think the reason is a strange (but good) reaction I've always had, namely a super-quick reaction when needed.

It's come in very handy more than once when a pedestrian has suddenly walked in front of my car against the light or without even looking. I can see the person and jam on my brakes super fast. On several occasions another driver has followed me to comment on my super-fast reflexes.

They're also quite useful in the kitchen, although I'm not always successful in keeping round items, such as grapes, from rolling off the counter onto the floor.

It started a couple of years ago (I'll soon be 74). For me it's arthritis. Lost my grip, ha. ha!

There is some comfort in knowing we are not alone ~~ it's not just me !!

My hubby would do well to read your concerns today. His fingers do not hold small objects well. They do not flex as they used to and, often, his hands are painful.
When yet another fork or spoon clatters on the tile floor, we laugh and say : Let's file this under "The Aging Process".

At times we find ourselves saying in unison Keep Calm and Carry On. (In all honesty, there are times when our Inner Children are not entirely calm :)

I agree that reduced skin sensitivity may be the reason most of us drop things. Although some of us have reduced vision as well (macular degeneration), which causes us to place things on counters and shelves that we don't see clearly. In that case, we eventually learn to take greater care in how we move about and do our chores. Add to this the fairly common occurrence of essential tremor among older folk, and you have the recipe for a lot of kitchen breakage! I always learn something from your posts!

I occasionally drop things, but there doesn't seem to be a significant increase over the last 5 years.

What I do notice is reduced hand strength. I attribute that to changes in activities, including more keyboard work and less work with hand tools, fewer opportunities to hang on for dear life on public transportation, and perhaps opening fewer snack bags.

I am aware, when separating bills as they come out of my wallet, that the ridges in my finger tips seem much smoother...making the task more difficult. I hate giving out $20s two at a time, so I tend to crinkle them a bit now as they go into the wallet.

Oh my goodness...yes! Only yesterday I asked myself what was the matter? Why can't I seem to hang onto things? So glad to know it isn't just me. I never thought to research it so thanks Ronnie for putting in the hours of effort.

Sigh! Me too. Butterfingers here --

Interesting stuff. Thanks for pulling that together.

I was attributing the "droppage" increase to carpal tunnel and arthritis, but do notice that it is harder to separate pieces of paper, which doesn't require much strength.

Picking things up is one more daily mindfulness exercise.

I am losing my grip strength. I have never had a strong grip but now at my mid-50s, I have to be careful of my hands and wrists. If I try to grip something and can't, it is better to let it go rather than hurt myself.

It's not so much that you are dropping things more. It's more about noticing that you have been dropping things more because now, it's more of a pain in the neck (pun intended) to pick things up. I keep my "grabber" handy at all times which works out fine except when I drop the grabber which usually results in me just leaving whatever I dropped on the floor until help arrives.

I have spinal stenosis of the cervical region. My dr has told me that if I should pick up a cup or glass and drop it that I am to immediately call her as it's a sign that something has gone haywire with a vertebra that immediate surgery could fix. Otherwise, waiting can cause paralysis.

Interesting information, for sure. in my 80s now, except for that lack of fingerprints (which I had always connected to keyboarding for the past 65+ years) my hands are in pretty good shape. But my feet! All the arthritis and other described ailments went to my feet! A nuisance when trying to get from point A to point B. It gets in my way a bit, but it could always be worse!

Count me in. I'm 75 and I've been experiencing this for the last 4 or 5 years. It is irritating and, as you say, dangerous. The tip of a knife is embedded in the floor near the kitchen counter. It just missed me! I see a neurologist as well as my general practice doc and they have not seen this as a precursor to anything other than more aging. And that's a good thing.

Another problem that I can link to this 'touching' problem is the fact that when I'm typing, I frequently miss a letter showing up on the screen because my touch is too light...

At 72 I've not yet noticed that I'm dropping things more often. I have, however, noticed that I seem to have less hand strength when it comes to twist-off plastic caps. I keep rubber pancakes handy to help with that. No apparent arthritis yet. I think all my keyboarding and game playing keeps my fingers nimble.

I encountered the fingerprint problem the last time I renewed my driver's license. The clerk had to try several times to get the image she wanted.

I was trying to teach my now 78 year-old aunt how to more effectively use her iPhone and noticed she had trouble with the swipe. I remembered reading your referenced Scientific American article and made a mental note to ping Apple - which I had forgotten to do until now.

I have been dropping more things lately, usually pieces of paper, sometimes gloves. It didn't seem like a serious problem and I'm glad to hear that it isn't.

... we cannot effortlessly perceive the appropriate strength of our grasp as automatically as when we were younger.

That's the conclusion I came to when I started dropping things. I looked no further. After all, I'm the best expert there is when it comes to my body. (Or, those will be famous last words.)

Though an ongoing problem for me I wrote a somewhat humorous piece about this on my blog a couple of years ago entitled"Looking Forward to Having the Upper “Hand”

Regarding IPad and IPhone problems... early on, I purchased a stylus. this seemed to solve all my "touch" problems with these devices. I couldn't seem to hit one key on the mark ,usually hitting two at a time. Then because of touch I couldn't seem to "tap "anything without it being not hard enough or not soft enough. The stylus works great, especially texting ... and my granddaughter loves to use it with the art apps.

Yes, yes, yes--dammit. I am 78, but I started noticing an increase in dropping things--housekeys, notably--probably twenty years back. I'm not sure it's gotten a lot worse, though. Also, I too have much more trouble turning pages than before. Hate that. I'm pretty sure that particular one has to do with dryer skin. As we get older our skin does get dryer, and that means less traction with whatever you're trying to manipulate.

More importantly for me, I am a pianist, and it's been years since I had to start using fingertip moistener (produces a slightly tacky surface on the fingers, and is designed for--aha!--turning pages) every time I play, because otherwise I land on the keys and then slide off them again. NOT amusing. I'm also certain that I can't achieve the speeds I used to when I play. I am unhappy about that, but have decided it's not so gross that I can't present pieces adequately. Still, I don't go anywhere without my sticky-finger stuff.

Could be a lot worse--dementia, cancer, serious heart stuff, diabetes, wheelchair--I haven't got any of those, so I try not to dwell on what's gone missing. (They WILL pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands.)

I have been told by a physical therapist that the loss of thumb strength and arthritis in the thumb is typical of older ladies more than men. And of course it is hard to grip things without using your thumb,

Having trouble twisting off bottle tops use rubber dish washing gloves works all the time.

Wow! I learn so much from you Ronni and from everyone who comments. I've added 3 items to my boot camp mini-list. 1. No fingerprints? Time to reconsider a life of crime. I'm so much more cunning now, could be a good career move. 2. Losing my grip? I've retrieved two little hand-strengthening tools that date from a carpal tunnel incident 40 years back, and will use them as a TV condiment. 3. Decreased sensitivity and fine muscle control? Back to the ukulele! These will only delay the inevitable but it feels good to find small solutions to incremental problems. On a note of hope, I occasionally have a run of droppings. (Oops, where's my copy editor?) Three or four in a row, then they stop for a while. Nice.

Hands hurt from arthritis and lack sensation in some fingers due to carpal tunnel nerve issues leading to "the dropsy". So far I'm injury free. I dread dropping and breaking glass as the shards are invisible to my weakening eyes and may be later found by a bare or stockinged foot.

Hands hurt from arthritis and lack sensation in some fingers due to carpal tunnel nerve issues leading to "the dropsy". So far I'm injury free. I dread dropping and breaking glass as the shards are invisible to my weakening eyes and may be later found by a bare or stockinged foot.

No fingerprints? I, too, am contemplating taking up a life of crime, perhaps part-time bank robbery. Now I just need someone to spray-paint the closed-circuit cameras and someone to drive the getaway car. Oh yes, and someone with large bazookas to wear a see-through blouse without a bra (guaranteed to capture all the witnesses' attention so they won't be able to identify us later in a police line-up). Anyone want to volunteer for these positions? Remember, these are part-time jobs only, no benefits beyond your share of the ill-gotten gains!

I don't drop things more often, but find it hard to pick things up as easily. And it is hard to turn pages sometimes. I have a great deal of hand tremors, some days worse than others, that I attribute to the medications I take for cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis, anxiety, and insomnia. I had never heard anything about contacting my doctor right away if I started dropping things -- neither my g.p. nor my back specialist ever warned me about that, so I'll try to remember to ask about it when next I visit them.

I drop things constantly. Mostly, though, I attribute it to I attention or being rushed. I need to be more zen and practice mindfulness whatever I'm doing -- I do believe that would lead to fewer drops. And my hands have definitely gotten stiffer (arthritis?) since menopause. I'm a knitter and conscious of my hands, so the stiffness and loss of fine motor control is noticeable to me. No fingerprints? Yep, like others, my first thought was....a heist! (I love caper movies.) But if I had to take a role, put me down for driving the getaway car!

Sorry, that should have said, I "attribute it to inattention". Once again, not paying enough attention!

No arthritis in hands so far, but my mother in law had painful arthritis in her hands, and we would stop by to twist open jars for her. She lined the jars up like soldiers waiting for orders. I am a bit of a stumblebum, in a rush to get too many things done, like vacuuming. I yank that little house monster around, whacking my ankles a few good times, or I trip on something or bop my head and throw out a few blankety blanks words.

My descent into old age often seems like gradually losing little pieces of myself and this constant dropping syndrome is both a metaphorical and an actual part of the process. Like Bruce, I think one of the worst aspects is the difficulty of bending down to pick things up. So, unless it's seriously needed (say, for the recipe I am awkwardly trying to follow) it stays on the floor until that day in the future when I feel strong enough to do some cleaning. That means lots of bits of paper, rubber bands and twist ties are part of my kitchen floor scenery and many bits of popcorn must await my not so frequent vacuuming in the area where I watch TV.

Consciousness and the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness are the friends of old age and will help us tremendously as we navigate the seas of forgetfulness (pre-Alzheimer's) and the shoals of clumsiness. It seems to me once again that I am in the company of people for whom coping is second nature and intelligence will outwit physical limitations every time. As Pat said, we do indeed keep calm and carry on because we must.

Always was a bit of a klutz--well, maybe more than a bit--but at 79, I'm becoming Super Klutz! Will try to follow the sage advice provided in the post and the comments. I already use non-slip material to open and hang on to containers or bottles and plan to be more attentive especially when dealing with sharp objects.

When I applied for an on-call job with our local school district last year a few months after being "involuntarily retired" by my employer of nearly 40 years, a fingerprint was required for a criminal background check. The fingerprint person had a difficult a time getting a readable print, so it's true at least in my case that we "lose" our individual fingerprints--along with a whole bunch of other useful stuff--when we get old.

Oh yeah! I drop things a lot. And lost my hand strength right after menopause. I've always been a klutz so it doesn't bother me a lot, however I recently had back surgery and couldn't bend over for 2 months. I've had a reacher-grabber for years for reaching things up too high, but I now have one at each end of the house , and I use them constantly. (Get the kind with the rubber cups on the end.)

Had to figure out how to make my bed too. Stuck a slippery broom handle under the side of the mattress down toward the bottom, use a bit of leverage to rest the end on a chair, stick a can of beans under the mattress on each side where the mop handle has lifted the mattress, pull out the mop handle, tuck your sheets under, remove the can of beans on each side and you don't have to lift the dang heavy mattress!

Thank you so much for this article. I started noticing that I was dropping things and thought the worst. I do have arthritis in both hands and have difficulty doing the things I used to do so easily. Will be 79 years of age this year, but I do not feel old. Was going to ask my doctor if I needed some tests--but reading this reassured me that it is just old age. YEAH! I can deal with old age and will be more aware of when I am placing things on my counters, etc. Thank you all for the comments--made my day!

I think this is just another indicator that we're losing neurons and we're seeing subtle signs that we don't function as well as we once did. Why should forgetting words be the only sign that we're getting older? I expect to lose ability at hundreds of sub-functions.

@Patty-in-New-York -- okay, you're the getaway driver -- however, since no one has applied for the other positions, guess we'll have to wait to decide which bank we're gonna hit...

People may think this sort of crazy, but here goes: I try to take advantage of the far too frequent occasions on which I drop things to practice good form in squatting down to pick them up. I want as much mobility as I can maintain, as long as I can maintain it ...

at 77 I find not only do I drop things but am sometimes unaware that I do (when outsidefor example) Am relieved to read the comments and know that my hands have lost strength,
so it is just another example of signs of old age! Will try and get a tighter grip on objects
now I am aware of the possible cause!

Thank you! I have become a klutz, especially knocking things off counters, tables, etc. - and today, I made a wonderful (expensive) salad, picked it up from the counter, and I decided I would take a bite before moving to the table, and it slipped right out of my hand, lost the salad AND my favorite salad bowl. :-( I came on-line to see what horrible disease I had, and I feel much better knowing the "disease" is aging, which happens to the best of us who live long enough. :-)

As for cleaning up the results of clumsiness, I bought a long-handled "dust pan" and broom duo, which I use ... a lot. It is SO MUCH easier than bending over to pick things up, and MUCH quicker than sweeping them into a short-handled dust pan.

Thanks for doing the research, because most of what came up first in my search was that it's an early sign of Alzheimer's. And I don't think I have that. I do have slippery fingers (no fingerprints left!), loss of sensitivity, and arthritis, and it sounds like I'm in very good company. I have been very annoyed at myself for the past year or so, and am just realizing it's a way to learn to pay more attention to my hands. I'd gotten used to them doing their job without me thinking. And I can practice squatting, too!

Thanks for the input.
I was already upset about dropping things more abd more often.
I am in my sixties and I will handle this problem with the advises I got by reading this post.

I am so glad to come across this discussion. I am 74 and definitely drop things more often than before, sometimes twice! I do have some arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand, and also have had surgeries on both wrists due to the dog pulling me down and breaking lots of bones so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Still, I HATE getting older!

I'm 75. In addition to constantly dropping and spilling things, I swerve into walls and sides of doorways when I walk. What is wrong with me. Should I see a neurologist? The clumsiness, etc. seems to be getting worse.

Thanks for researchingC this and giving us the full picture!

Thanks so much for a reasoned and informed article. I also am experiencing this more often and am in otherwise excellent health so it was puzzling. I too am attempting to consciously retrain myself.

Another 'Dropper' here. I, also, seem to drop things a lot. Tonight I knocked over a full glass of water at a restaurant ( not the first time). We were out with friends, and from the restaurant,went to a lounge for a cocktail, While sitting at the bar, I knocked over, and BROKE the glass with my drink. Very embarrassing, and made my husband angry. ( like I WANTED to cause a mess for someone to clean up ! ) Truthfully, I had only had one margarita with Mexican food at the restaurant. My husband tells me that I need to 'Pay Attention'. This made me angry, and just a little hurt too. After reading what others have posted, I'm thinking ,maybe he WAS right. Maybe I do need to 'pay attention' better. Hopefully, it IS just 'Old Age' --YUCK !!!

Yep - this dropsy is just another irritant, along with maddening tripping due to inattention to what lies in my path and apparent precursor to shuffling (not picking feet up enough when walking). Absent mindedness is probably the most worrisome. I find things that have been put away in the wrong places! Woe. Trying to stop being enraged is the worst. Maybe the gods are testing us in development of tolerance for ourselves. La la.

Once I crossed 50 (am in my mid 50's now), I started dropping things. This was so shocking since I prided myself on good hands and good grip. But, if it's due to older (I hate to say old) age, then I am okay with it. Everyone has to get old one day! I have learned to live with it.

Very informative piece of reading. Thankyou for taking so much trouble with research. I read all the comments and for me, taking more care, holding things with two hands, making sure I have a grip on something and generally thinking about my problem before I make any kind of movement, seems to be good common sense to solve the conundrum. Yes, it's a conundrum. When I drop something, I often think I'd like to see that in slow motion to see what went wrong. From this moment, I'll try the "think before you do" approach and if it helps, try to make it part of my life. Watch this space......

I was beginning to fear I was getting some terrible disease - three glasses and a full jar of expensive English pickled onions all dropped in one week. And with severe arthritis in hands knees and back, cleaning the mess up I can only do in stages. I turned 70 yesterday and was convinced I wouldn't be able to live on my own much longer. But there have been some good suggestions that I will put into use, and hopefully the surgery for carpel tunnel will also help.
Thank you

Its comforting to know this is common. Like others my mind went to worse case scenarios. Both my hubby & myself are dropping things or just not being as mindful (like I just did, pulling hot tea out of the microwave and hitting the door causing hot tea to spill on my hand). I do have a numb index finger due to an earlier spine issue and have been blaming it on that but it does not explain why my husband is dropping things also. Thanks for the information and all the great comments. I also liked the info on fingerprints, now I know why I can't swipe sometimes. Will pass this information on the next time one of my 20 something co-workers treat me like a dunce when I have trouble with swiping. ha ha

I have just been reading (rereading) because my memory or lack there of allows it---

How We Die by Sherwin Nuland. On page 56 he talks about the brain and gives statistics of interest to this topic---
Loosely translated--
For every decade after 50,the brain loses 2% of its weight.
And gradually during this time, the cerebral cortex ----

The motor area--- of the frontal cortex loses20-50% of its neurons
The visual area---- in the back loses about 50% of its neurons
The physical sensory part ----on the sides loses about 50% of its neurons

The higher intelligence areas of the cerebral cortex have a lower degree of cell disappearance so reasoning and judgment stay until late senescence

But the remaining cells are having trouble with replacing parts –the brain is smaller and doesn’t work as well. The brain is thus sluggish-slowing in daily life result.

Nuland's book is brilliant - it is one of my favorites still on the issue of dying. But it was written 25 years ago and the science of brain physiology has been updated, changed, improved, refuted, etc. etc. I would not use a 1992 book as a reliable reference on brain or neurology information. So much has been learned since then.

Doesn't mean a lot of the rest of his book isn't worth reading.

Good point Ronni-- Thanks

I have been dropping things lately. I dropped a pot of hot gravy on my feet while carrying it and scalded my feet. I was in great pain and washed my feet in cold water and my daughter in law applied Colgate tooth paste . The next morning I was my old self. No loss but a lesson to ask someone else to carry hot items. I also ever thank God for I could have poured it over my legs or other parts of my body. God has shown me I have to be more cautious in my movements. I sometimes knock into things when I get up during the night to go to the toilet. Thanks for all information I retrieved from this blog. Be blessed all and be safe

while i also have noticabley been dropping things a lot more in the past 5 or 6 months(i'm 62 years old btw)),i refuse to begin excessive behavior,as though i've suddenly become a clumsy old senior..while the decison to be sure of a tighter grasp on things you carry is a wise decision,i'm concerned that many people will begin behaving suddenly as though they've suddenly become Granny Clampett..for example,i've been termed a fast walker since i was young..one of my neighbors sees me outside walking the apartment complex property frequently and whenever she can,she comments to me ,that i need to slow down and be careful where i'm walking at all times should i misstep and fall,break a hip,etc..i have never had pains in my joints or muscles and have no existing 'nor frequent or occasional pains as do many people my age..physically i feel the same as i did in my 30's..my neighbor constantly attempts to scare me into believing that i should walk as though i'm a dolting old man and then there's my diet..she can't understand why at 62,i'm eating spicy tacos,dominos pizza, and loaded hamburgers at our local Denny's..i'm apparently supposed to be living on a steady stream of veggies and yogurt and cranberry juice..i wonder what she'd think of my tastes in music and movies,lol (i own over 3000 80's and 90's music videos). anyway,i do think it's wise to grasp things a bit tighter to avoid drops..it makes sense..but i don't suggest anyone begin obsessing over the circumstances.

Ricky - your neighbor needs to mind her own business, LOL. I, too, eat spicy food every day, though I'm a pescatarian. I love my Tabasco and Sriracha sauces, Wasabi almonds, red hot potato chips, Cajun pistachios. Can't stand bland food. Besides, spicy food is good for your heart, right?

I'm 61 and have always been a bit of a klutz, but it's been much worse lately. The other day I dropped six things before I left the house for work! And this morning I dropped my (full) hot pot on the floor in my office, soaking my pants up to the knee. I do have a long relationship with tendonitis in my hands (knitting, crocheting, and writing), and I've recently developed a small cataract, so I guess time marches on...but I'm putting up a good fight. I've always says I refuse to get old, and this just infuriates me to no end.

Thanks for the very informative post.

I really appreciate Ronni's blog. I'm 68 and have begun experiencing the "dropsies" and like many of you, started suspecting the worse, especially the connection to ALS and MS. I will still mention it to my doctor when I see him for my physical, but not with the sense of dread that I would have.

THANK YOU!!!! I thought it was just me and hoping and praying it was just due to getting older and nothing more serious. I recently retired and have my dream business of making dolls. I didn't want to find out something that would end my joy of doll making. I will make sure that I am consciously more aware of my grip pressure. thanks again!!!

It's nice reading all these comments. I was afraid I was alone. I'm 71. It is those items that require finesse that bother me. Things like light bulbs, silverware, some lightweight dishes cause the most problem. If I have to hold them tightly with my whole hand then I don't seem to have a problem. Ain't aging the pits?

Glad to know this, unfortunately, my memory is going too, so no matter what I do, I will still continue to drop things because in 15 minutes i will forget that I read this article, AND I will forget to remind myself to hold things tighter. I could have it tattooed on my hand but I will forget to look at my hand. I could throw away anything that I might accidentally drop, but I will forget why. So......you see.....there can be no real long term help. Of course, I could set my phone to remind me automatically every 15 minutes ,which will work until I forget to charge it up or i lose my phone. I guess i will just continue to drop things and put up with the sorry ass comments from my derelict friends, because, what else CAN I do?

Thanks for your research and comments. Your site was the first one I pulled up so you saved me a lot of research on my own.

I have that dropping problem, I am 83 and it is just now become noticeable. I will not worry about this as a serious health problem now.

Thanks again

Dear Ronni and commenters:

This article and the succeeding comments have been a joy to read. I'm only 58, and have started to notice that I occasionally drop things more than I used to (in fact, I don't remember dropping things at all when I was younger.) I confess, I had started to worry about something more sinister, as my grandmother had ALS, but don't think my situation is due to either a lack of attention or an underlying illness. I really do believe it is a mild degeneration of the finer motor skills, and that description really fits, at least in my case. It just rings true for me.

I love everyone's positive approach to aging - so have enjoyed hearing your stories, and I thank you for sharing your personal situations so candidly. I hope that I will live a long life, just like you all are, and that I will stay happy and joyful, like so many of you. You are a real inspiration and a treasure. Ronni, ... you've done a wonderful service to us all.

true, we typically lose strengths......
i had this 'strength' discussion a while back. i did not agree.
i subsequently tried often gripping more tightly......wasnt the real answer altho it did help.
the clue herein is loss of finger prints and is well stated by Kate Gilpin .
we wrinkle....why?
we lose our fingerprints....why?
we drop things....why?

our ability to hold things is a function of friction.
what to do?
try hand lotions, moisturizes....increase your hand friction.
then next time youre in a grocery, and you again, cannot open one of those plastic bags on the roll,(and you ask a younger person to do it for you....been there have you?)
you can prove my theory by simply licking your finger tips...moisture.
try moisture....this may just be what you needed!

I too was dropping many items. Also had difficulty with buttoning shirt and pants. I had difficulty remembering passwords and following directions. I had difficulty putting on my pants, socks and shoes. I was confused often. I also had a severe case of constipation. I finally went to hospital thinking I may have had a silent stroke. A cat scan revealed a brain tumor glioblastoma. I am now 62 years old.The tumor caused brain swelling pressing on nerves causing these issues and many more that I have not listed. This all happened last year and the tumor was removed in November 2016 two days after the cat scan. Since then I have received radiation and chemo treatment. Most of the symptoms have disappeared with the removal of the tumor.

Thank you for your post. It seems I can’t hold on to anything anymore. It could be my car keys, cell phone, purse, comb, etc. I thought I was experiencing this alone. I don’t believe nothing is medically wrong. I see that I need to be more conscious of what I’m doing. Take a little more time and focus on what I’m doing. Thank you once again!

Thanks for all your comments and stories. Yesterday I was talking with someone in their 20's while holding a hot coffee cup in my left hand. As I gesticulated in a lively fashion, the coffee cup simply dropped all over the floor and scalded me on the way down. I felt like a complete twit. My hand just seemed to let go. I'm 70 and have noticed lately that sometimes I have dropped things for no reason. I work with beads to make jewellery and play the ukulele so hope these hand and finger movements will keep the co-ordination and grip going. Cheers to you all :)

For me its exactly the same. I blame my wrist more tho than my sense and finger tips. Latest example is that I dropped my freshly bought ice cream, and I immediately figured, its because my wrist feels a bit funny and weak. Same goes for other examples. I am 32

As there are Murphy's Laws there are old age laws. Mine is, "The more difficult its to reach the floor the more things I drop".

Glad to know that it's not just me, no pain no noticeable weakness, just things ending up on the floor. Maybe some unexplained tingling in the hands so I thought it was the overwhelming of multi-tasking with so many things on ones mind that we don't take particular care to ensure things are placed right as before, we never gave it a thought, now we have to for our own sake and others. Dropping that knife and it ending up stuck in your foot, using an old fashioned grater making cole slaw and there ending up with protein from your finger tips is serious enough for us to make the effort to pay attention to what is happening as we age.

Thanks for the article and thanks to other respondents. I'm 76 and have had one neck surgery, six back surgeries and twelve hernia surgeries over many years and I spent so much time in the hospital and in recuperation over 2016 and 2017 that I have lost most of my muscle mass. So many little things I did for years and assumed I'd be able to do forever are much more difficult or impossible now. But the thing that bothers me most is dropping things so often. I guess, as you say, I can't tell how much of a grip I have anymore. Someone mentioned that they had to concentrate and use a more pronounced grip now. That's a "me, too". However this month I started some simple "at home" exercises for seniors that are focused on increasing muscle mass in the arms and legs. I'll never be a Charles Atlas, but I might be able to pull the slide back on my side arm again and use a hammer without fear of throwing it rather than simply swinging at that nail. We should have been indoctrinated on being this old. I definitely wasn't ready. Happy new year and Thanks again.

I have been noticing this too, for the past year or two. I thought it might be due to aging, but I am only 50 now, and it's getting worse. There are no other underlying issues that would indicate this is anything else but change in sensitivity due to aging, but I really thought 48-50 was too young for this to start. My other theory was that God is making me drop things, so I have to bend over an pick them up, because I am not getting enough exercise. :-)

I too have slippery fingers....no fingerprints left (now would be a good time to become a burglar!) My prints can not be recognized on scanners so I have to enter a code. I drop things on a daily basis.....I'm wondering if anyone knows of something that can be rubbed on hands like lotion that will take the smoothness away? Roughen up the fingertips a little so things don't slide out of my hands! Book covers are a real problem! I pick the book up and sure enough there it goes out of my grip onto the floor! My back should be in good shape with all the bending to pick items up off the floor but actually it's not helping the back at all! I decided to get a part time job at McDonald's to give me something to do! I worked in education for 25 years before retiring and I got bored after 7 years and went back to work....I drop at least 1 drink in a 4 hour shift a day! Usually more than one! I need something to make my fingers less smooth! Any suggestions anyone??

Very comforting! I already dropped two cups of hot coffee and a carton of cereal, all before 8 am. When I went to comfort myself at the keyboard (piano), I "dropped" so many notes that I ran to my other keyboard (computer) and looked up Parkinsons. Not to worry. Thank you!

Over the years I have found more of my kitchen items on the floor! I sometimes am aware that my hand is about to open I try to look at my hand but before my eyes can look my hand opens. My doc told me it is from my neck/ brain. I have had 6 operations on my neck so I know there is no compression but now I guess my age is taking over! When I walk my dog I have to hook the leash to my chair for if I don't I will drop it. I don't like racing around trying to get her!!
But my memory has increased for I was sent a pic of my class pic for the 4th grade, I knew every one of the classmates and I could remember their family. So I just sit in my chair looking down and remembering all the things I have dropped over the years!!👋

Thank you for posting this. It was very well written. I appreciate you doing the online legwork and presenting what you found. Well done.

Not that I want other people to be dropping things too, but nice to know I'm part of a community of droppers, lol. Last night I dropped a glass jar full of tomato sauce. Red sauce and shards of glass everywhere, sigh. I prefer the taste and healthier options of food & beverages from glass, but with the dropping issue, I will probably switch to plastic. Thanks for the helpful article.

This post has been very helpful, to reinforce my belief that this symptom is not serious. i've been dropping things for about 15-20 years now .... i'm 72. Mostly small items or papers.
Because things have not gotten worse altho a little more frequent, i've been thankful that i have this symptom of older age rather than other, more serious issues. I can't say it enough ... I'm so grateful to wake up every day and be relatively free of health issues, at least any major ones. i'm trying to enjoy it while i can~!

This was incredibly helpful. Of course my first thought was that dropping things is a sign of some awful disease. And my first search came up with the usual suspects: ALS, Huntington's, etc. But what you've said makes so much sense! I feel so relieved!

I am an 85 yr.old male,not very smart due to recent action.Like previous comments,trouble with right hand holding things.My right hand kept coming off the golf club during my drive,friend recommended also wear golf glove on right,solved the problem.Now the major problem,I am on a ladder(not supposed to be there) on third rung,a long pole in left hand,holding on to ladder with right hand(or so I thought),next thing I know I'm in in the air and bang,hurts. Right hand turned loose of ladder.Old age is not for sissies. Al.

Glad it’s not just me! I am 59 but I have never had a problem with dropping things until just lately. Now it seems like I drop things constantly! Also I can’t be fingerprinted with a scanner, they have to ink me. Had to be fingerprinted to get okayed to have custody of my great niece. They tried 3 times then sent me to another district to a specialist to fingerprint me. Now I know why! Thanks for the posts!😀

I came across this article and like you I had to see why I'm dropping things, like ALL the time. This is a very stressful condition to have and I don't know if the medical community takes it seriously enough (what you said about the knife for example). I've dropped knives, scissors, and everything else I get my hands on but today had to be the worse day ever for me as it relates to dropping things.
Anyone who likes to keep their home feeling clean can relate to something that can cause an awful mess, and without days of diligent elbow grease can be very difficult to clean up......THE DREADED SPILLED FULL GLASS OF SODA ON CARPET! I wasn't even awake this morning and I reached for something on a table and knocked over a full glass of root beer I just poured.....aahghahaghhghghahghgggg! I got my steamer out and started the cleaning process, but it took me a couple hours to fully regain my composure. The day wore on, and I did many things, and just as I was cleaning up from dinner, poured myself a glass of ginger ale and thought I'd relax for a few minutes before bed. As I walked into the dining room, I bent over to unplug a floor fan and BAMMMMMMM! Full glass of ginger ale on the carpet.....here I go again....the steamer is plugged in and warming up. Why does God hate me so much??????

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I too suddenly started dropping everything... feared I had some horrid disease. I’ts normal! What a relief. The so called “golden years “ is a myth perpetrated on us. Getting old sucks.

glad to see I am in good company with the dropsies. Dropped and broke a cup of pudding last night and dropped a loaded dinner plate tonight! The reason they're called the golden years is because of all the gold we spend on doctors, lawyers, etc. I don't mind the getting older as much as I mind the aging that goes with it. Best to all!

I have found that my hands feel slipperier and things slip from my grip because I was used to my hands gripping better. I have come to the conclusion that as I age my hands do not have as much oils and sweat. The dry hands do not grip as well. If this might be your problem, try gripping a smooth glass and then soak your hands in some warm water for a minute and then lightly dry them and grip the glass again. If you're like me, you'll grip it better when you've soaked your hands in water. Because of this, I know the problem is not serious and is something I will just have to adjust to. After all, I can't be bothered to soak my hands every time I want to pick up something smooth!

Hello to all you fellow slippery fingered folks! Blessings to you Ronni for starting this blog when I really needed it. I turn 76 this month. Slowly but surely I have been dropping more and more things and lately I have noticed it's quite difficult for me to pick up papers off a pile or turn the pages of a book or catalog. What a waste of time!! But now I know it's common to us oldsters so I'll moisten my fingertips in the future. Simple solution—but no spit, please! Starting in my early 50's I started worrying about this and that ailment, because my mother passed from Alzheimers (at almost 90) and my father 9 years earlier of ALS. As the years passed by my doctors found nothing major wrong with me: yes to arthritis, aches and pains, hair drying out, weird skin bumps and dry skin, it hurts to walk, difficult to pick things up or carry things around, etc. and now add finger prints disappearing, but they all tended to say the same thing: It's just part of the aging process. Well, I’m not giving in to that. I’m still promising to start exercising, I take supplements (no one-a-days), eat healthy (Really!), eat about one ounce of 86% cacao chocolate a day, no milk, no shell fish and consider me well taken care of by my God. I admit I complain a bit (mostly to my husband) on achy days, but I'm grateful to be as healthy as I am. My husband's had more than his share of health issues which I help him manage, but he never complains. I'm ashamed when I do.
Just to let you all know your responses were/are so comforting to me...much more satisfying than talking with a youthful doctor! Thank you for writing on this blog. And, Ronni, THANK YOU for putting my mind at ease by providing this outlet. You should write a book.
By the way: I read recently that anyone aged 75 or older is classified as Old Elderly. I hope I hang around long enough to find out who thought it a cute title and I'll be able to tell him/her that it's not!

I am 58 and have neuropathy in both hands and both feet,from a brain injury. I am also diabetic. My mind wanders and then focus on the present and cant remember where my mind wandered to. I have dropped so many beverages on the floor I can't count. Lately things have gotten worse. Yesterday I dropped the TV remote 6 times in 10 min. It is so annoying. I have had 2 silent strokes. I hope dropping things is a result of the above things, and not a symptom of something new.

I’ve read many of the comments to this point. And I really feel at least 93% better already. I have everything listed above & have had 88 yrs to collect them. The worst thing so far is macular degeneration. Boy does that ever put you in a fog. By another year or so I probably won’t be able to use my iPhone much so it doesn’t matter that it won’t have anything to do with my thumb print!

Thank you Ronnie for taking the time and research for this article. I've been dropping things since I remember but today while making my coffee and dropping things around as usual the idea to know why came along, thank goodness for Google and bloggers like you helping people to get well informed.

Maybe as you age, hands get dryer so things are slippery. Thkngs seem to be alive and jump off my hand! I also notice that fingers are so smooth and therefore things feel slippery. Very dry hands.

God bless you for the article!

Im 53 and an avid runner, but slowly Ive been doing the same

I used to have tendinitis in my hands, and that might be playing a role.

also stress and lack of sleep

Im going to start my POT excesizes again for the hands and see about how to improve my grip

I have the issue that when I go to grab something, I miss. Light switches for instance. I walk into the room, try to turn on the lights and miss the switch, maybe 2 or 3 times until I just stop and actually force myself to stand there and turn on the lights as a single movement, not an automatic one as I pass by the switch. What the heck? I do drop things too, again 2 or 3 times. It's driving me INSANE! No tremors though. I've had a few other medical issues that have come out of no where. I fainted and face planted with no warning. I had a pancreatitis attack and I'm not even diabetic. Fatigue is an issue too. Not sure if it's all related or just co-incedenetal

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