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Confronting the carer of a Dementia sufferer. - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

Confronting the carer of a Dementia sufferer.

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
81 posts
I think we can all agree that 'confronting' was a poor choice of word. But thinking of a brief, informative subject-line is not always easy. Conscientious professional writers often spend ages editing and re-editing their work before publication to make sure they light on the mot juste...

I think that all of us are in broad agreement about this particular case (grin and bear it: it may not be for long), but I hope most of you will also take my point that there is a general issue of some importance here that affects carers directly. If you and your partner used to enjoy energetic hill-walking, and he/she now has MS or another physically debilitating condition and can't walk at all, the choice is clear. You have to go on your own or with friends and arrange care, or you have to give up on that particular hobby altogether for the time being.

But with dementia, the decision can be a lot less clear. You might be able to take your charge along to some activity, but will he/she get anything out of it, and will his/her presence compromise the enjoyment of other people or even the benefit they expect to derive from the event? This could be a tricky decision. The need for a social life and the agonies of guilt are both key factors in the lives of carers, and cases like this, seen both from the point of the carer and in the wider context, seem to me to be worth thinking about and perhaps discussing in another thread, away from the hurt feelings engendered by Irene's original post here.

I would like to thank all the amazing people who sought to contribute light to the issue I've raised in this Forum. To those who have contributed heat, I hope you've found their posts an illuminating read.

I attended this morning the official launch of the 'Service Framework for Older People" compiled by our regional Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety, with input from working groups of which I was a participant. In one of the sections in the Framework document, about Transitions of Care, was a standard on 'Improved Dementia and mental health services". I quote ' Older people with mental health conditions or dementia, should, from an early stage, access services and places that provide skilled assessment, treatment and care enabling them to maintain as much independence as possible'. As to who is responsible for making sure it happens, the document lists : - HSC Board, Public Health Agency, local commissioning groups, HSC Trusts, GP's Primary Care and Community Pharmacy. As to who will help: - the voluntary and community sector, the independent sector.
I took the opportunity this morning, to share the dilemma I've discussed on this Forum, with our Health Minister, a Doctor who specialises in Geriatric Care, and representatives from Age NI. I found their views, helpful, balanced and supportive.

I have been studying again the type and quality of comment from the many posts on this topic. Certain themes and patterns appear and I have been grateful to measured and balanced posts which have clearly sought to make reason and goodwill take the place of passion and prejudice.

I have used the word 'confronting' in the post, because I feel that attempts to reach solutions that will benefit all involved parties need to overcome obstacles of entrenched and one-sided thinking which muddle and confuse strategies that seek to bring about win/win solutions, that take everyone's rights into consideration. Regards, Irene
[Health Minister, a Doctor who specialises in Geriatric Care,] quote,Irene.

This is a question,not trying to stir up anything.
In Ireland, are elderly patients still known by the term Geriatrics? I believed it wasn't allowed anymore.Certainly I know that locally,services for older people are referred to as "Care of the Elderly." Nurses and Drs correct members of the public who may call the wards "Geriatric wards."

I won't delete this, in case anyone else has read it,but having looked it up(after having a PM), I find that it is again in common use even in our county.
Oh bugger this. I've tried following instructions on how to do the coloured quote box things; I've failed miserably. So I'll do it my way... I'll just copy and make it in italics.

I have used the word 'confronting' in the post, because I feel that attempts to reach solutions that will benefit all involved parties need to overcome obstacles of entrenched and one-sided thinking which muddle and confuse strategies that seek to bring about win/win solutions, that take everyone's rights into consideration. Regards, Irene

Way to go, oh Mighty Keeper of the Committees. I just hope to god that if ever I have to appear before a health committee on my mum's behalf you're not there.
There's this painting in the Walker Art Gallery, called "When did you last see your Father."
I haven't a clue why, but it reminded me of you and your committees. I'm sure if there's any trained psychologists out there, they can explain why.
In Ireland, are elderly patients still known by the term Geriatrics? I believed it wasn't allowed anymore.
Political correctness can be really weird. 'Geriatric' is not intrinsically offensive or insulting. It simply means 'doctor/medical care for the elderly (Greek 'geras')' as a parallel to 'paediatric' (medical care for children -- Greek 'pais/paidos', though in the Latin spelling). Saying 'geriatric ward' means exactly the same as 'ward for elderly patients': it is not rude or dismissive, merely descriptive.
A lot of the politically correct rules about language are invented by people whose knowledge of language is, umm, rather limited and naïve.
Do any of you remember the almighty fuss when an American politician used the word 'niggardly' and got into serious trouble because the uneducated idiots who heard it thought that the word (meaning 'mean, ungenerous, parsimonious') was somehow connected with the now-forbidden noun denoting a Black person? It is totally unconnected, and was in use in 16th-century English long before the offensive word for people of African heritage had come into use.
I used to be a nurse on a "Care of the Elderly" ward.We were not allowed to call it Geriatric care,after about 1990. I left in 1996,so anything could have happened since then,but when my Dad was an inpatient a couple of years ago, my sister was directed to a "Care of the Elderly" ward.
Tristesa - there are lots of words like that, that were originally merely descriptive, but over time there have been emotional overlays, so that they become offensive. Take the word "cretin". It was originally a descriptive word meaning some-one who suffered from the metabolic disorder cretinism. It has become so identified with the learning disability that is part of the disorder that it has become an abusive term and is now banned. Even the highly offensive N word originally came from the Latin niger - meaning Black.
Thats the problem - people take a descriptive word and purposely use it as an insult, so that the word itself becomes insulting. There are always two parts to language - the actual dictionary meaning and then the sort of emotional association of the words used.
Crocus, what you say is completely correct, but that is my whole point. The process you have described, the nuances and associations that adhere to words over time and sometimes shift, or even completely reverse, their basic meanings (think of 'egregious'!), let alone their connotations, are precisely why 'political correctness' is a hopeless hiding to nothing. It is not the WORDS that are offensive: it is the way in which they are used, the intention and preconceptions behind them. There are naturally many words that carry negative, judgemental meanings as their basic definition (stupid, ugly, cruel, bigot...) but I am not speaking of those. I am thinking of the words that start out, as you say, as neutral descriptors, and become tainted in the mouths of, umm, stupid bigots.

Any description can become offensive if it starts to be used regularly in a deliberately insulting way by enough people. That is how language works; it is dynamic and organic, never static. So to take the example of 'geriatric' and 'elderly', it is only a matter of time before 'elderly' is itself perceived as intrinsically offensive, as has already happened in the USA, and we move into the ludicrous American territory of substituting 'senior', thus risking losing the more precise definitions of that word.

The other problem about these continually shifting definitions and prohibitions is that it becomes ever easier for well-meaning people to give offence innocently and inadvertently because the pc term they learned to use 15 years ago has been tainted in its turn, and is now forbidden.

The only way to deal with the situation is by treating the cause rather than the symptom. I am in my 70s, so I am old, elderly, and a subject for geriatric medicine —
and doubtless a whole lot of other adjectives and nouns that escape me at the moment. All these are true as objective descriptions. All can be uttered either with contempt and rudeness, or with calm and respectfulness, even, sometimes, with admiration. None of the words is bad, but some of those who use them may be. Continually changing the 'acceptable' terms is a waste of time and effort: time and effort that would be better spent in addressing the prejudices that lie behind verbal offensiveness.

I agree Tristesa, it would be far better to tackle the prejudice behind the insults, but I suspect that this is a Sysyphean task. Prejudice is the black side of human nature and although education will undoubtedly help, it wont eradicate it. As part of this I think that some words will inevitably become so tainted by connotation that there will be no alternative but to ditch them.
I do know what you mean by PC gone mad, though. My daughter is a teacher and recently contacted us in bewilderment as she had made a comment about having a "brain-storming exercise" and was told that this is offensive to people with epilepsy. Now hubby has epilepsy, but neither he, nor I am in the least bit offended by the term - we laughed. It seems that instead of language taking its course and terms becoming offensive and having to be abandoned, someone (or some commitee) is trying to pre-emp this process (they would probably say that they are being "pro-active") and banning words before they become offensive. I suspect that this in itself draws attention to the prejudice and reinforces it.
81 posts