By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
Towards the end of April the British Geriatric Society released a market research report which found that most older people are “put off” by the term “frailty”, and that older people and health professionals see frailty as an inevitable and progressive condition experienced at the very end of life. Wow! Who would have thought that?
Possible “solutions” offered in answer to this “problem” include: avoiding the use of the term ‘frailty’ or ‘frail’ when caring for and supporting older people and using language that promotes more positive aspects of what evidence-based healthcare can offer, rooted in what people can do rather than what they cannot do.
Also, there has been recent online discussion about terms and phrases to avoid when talking about someone who is suffering from dementia (and that’s a no-no for a start – nobody suffers from dementia; they live with the condition, in the same way I suppose that people don’t suffer from trigeminal neuralgia – they simply live with it (although some have been know to commit suicide rather than endure the truly horrendous pain). Anyone who cannot imagine the mental anguish of someone who is aware of the remorseless degradation of their cognitive function can’t have much imagination.
Of course we must be sensitive about the terms we employ and the language we use in all spheres of life, and the care of elderly people is a sensitive area and often calls for sensitive language, but I think there is a dangerous to tendency to become over-prescriptive, to a point where essential truths can be obscured or diminished beneath a glossy patina of politically correct, well-intentioned jargon.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.