QUESTION: 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.