Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm Not Your Honey

It's always eye opening, being on the other side.

Mom had knee replacement surgery last Tuesday, so this week I've been the patient's daughter, not the professional medical social worker-geriatric care manager. I have to tell you, I haven't been so impressed with what I've observed. But, one thing that has been reinforced, is that the folks I worked with at the Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas RehabCenter were an exceptional lot--so a big shout out to all of you! I wish you were taking care of Mom.

One of my biggest complaints is all the "elderspeak" (In "Sweetie" and "Dear", a Hurt for the Elderly, New York Times, October 6, 2008).

I am not your honey/sugar/sweetie/dear. Neither is my Mother. We have names. You can call me Kim, her name is Mildred.

Unfortunately, the comments to the New York Times article aren't available, but back in 2008 when I originally found the article, I read the comments. This is a very divisive topic. People who use elderspeak feel very strongly about it. To them, they are being comforting and nice and pleasant. To the people who hate elderspeak, it's condescending, impersonal and lazy.

After this week I have become aware of how much more prevalent elderspeak has become. Almost every nurse and aide who I have observed interact with my Mother has used it. I can't really tell if it bothers her, but it bothers me. They don't know her. How can she be their "honey"? And I know I'm not your "sweetie".

So please, take that extra 5 seconds to look at the chart, and use our names. Don't depersonalize us, or assume an intimacy or affection that isn't there.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not comfortable with it at any age, and I think that only certain waitresses can get away with it. It's just inappropriate for anyone else. One time a lady tried to "honey" me on the phone constantly until I said, "No, I don't think so, sugar." I could tell that her reaction on the other end of the line was almost physical. "What did you call me?!" she replied, to which I said, "You started it." She settled down after that.