Respect! When Caring for the Elderly

Dear Barbara, I have hired an LPN, who is probably well-intentioned, yet has some qualities that I feel are inappropriate in caring for my mother. She talks about my mother as if she is not there or cannot hear. She calls her Pookie Bear, Silly Boots, Honey, Sweetie, and even describes her bowel movements in vivid detail to anyone who will listen. I appeal to you as an expert. Is this how we care for the elderly?

Of course this is not how we care for our elderly yet it happens all too often. I think sometimes we caregivers confuse aspects of aging, (diminishing physical abilities, slowness, lack of stamina, confusion, memory challenges, deteriorating health and even approaching death) with child-like behavior and begin treating our elderly and dying as we would small children.

Treating people with a cold professionalism vs. treating them as children is either end of a spectrum of respect for a patient’s personhood. Cold professionalism can be as dehumanizing as calling someone "Pookie Bear". We caregivers need to find a balance. We need to be friendly, caring and nurturing but not condescending, disrespecting privacy or blurring the lines of professionalism.

It is our privilege to serve, the nature of the career we healthcare providers have chosen. There is no invitation to become personal as we enter into another’s life journey. We are guests in our patient’s lives and have the responsibility to act as guests, not take up residency with our own personality traits.

Something More about... Respect! When Caring for the Elderly

 I have a guidebook that supports family caregivers so that they can care for their loved one as well as caring for themselves. BY YOUR SIDE: A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home is knowledge and support for providing care at home. It is written for the caregiver.  A 72 page, spiral-bound guidebook addresses end of life choices (life sustaining, comfort care), advance directives, and funeral planning. It details signs of approaching death (what to look for, what to do); describes end of life care at home; pain management; care of dementia patients at end of life; and, very importantly, how to take care of yourself as you fulfill your role as caregiver.   



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published