Essay Example on Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can break Me

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can break me too Much is written and talked about regarding the language to use around people with cancer It s time to do the same with people with dementia and combat the stigma says dementia consultant Yvonne Manson Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me So says the old saying a child s mode of defence against bullies in the playground But the fact is that words do hurt Quite apart from the obviously insulting words that can be thrown at someone language can be a subtle but effective enemy especially when it comes to older people As dementia consultant for a group of care homes I have seen and felt the impact of words Much has been written about and talked about regarding what language to use around cancer patients It's time to do the same with people with dementia With around 6 500 people diagnosed each year and 850 000 people living with dementia in the UK today a figure expected to rise to more than a million by 2025 dementia is not going to go away And it's affecting millions of carers both professionals and family members People with dementia don't always have the ability to make witty comebacks to a sticks and stones remark

All the more reason then to arm ourselves with the right vocabulary in the first place Here are my tips and no nos when it comes to the language to use 

She's a wanderer It may seem like an innocuous word but it s a label As such it s disrespectful Other subjective words to avoid are poor feeders and wetters He s losing his marbles Again it s considered a lighthearted remark but put yourself in their position Is this a kind thing to say about someone who s going through memory loss confusion and personality change For the same reason words like dippy mad and demented are offensive and shouldn t be used How long has he been suffering from dementia People with dementia aren t sufferers Of course they suffer at times but don t we all The key thing is they don t want dementia to define them Instead of describing someone as dementia sufferer or dementia patient try using person with dementia or better still person living with dementia She s an empty shell Actually she isn t Not only is there lots going in that brain but this comment makes the assumption that people living with dementia can t feel pain or emotion They can Where are you from love Beware of apparently friendly conversation Asking someone with dementia seemingly basic questions like where they live where they were born whether they re married can cause them a lot of distress Instead let them take the lead and don t be afraid to dip into their universe If they talk about their deceased wife as if she s still alive go with the flow and turn it into a chat And another thing don t call them love dear or any other term of endearment


Use their preferred name In her blog Kate Swaffer who writes and talks internationally about her own journey with dementia gives a few more tips for carers Don't remind people with dementia of the death of a loved one or pet Don t talk about them to someone else in front of them Don t say I ve just told you that Children are frequent visitors to our care homes either visiting relatives or as part of a series of intergenerational initiatives we conduct in which we link primary school children with our residents so that they can learn from each other Seeing these youngsters buddying up with their older pals is inspiring Communication comes naturally to the kids The stigma of dementia is learned and we find that children with no inherent knowledge or pretences talk openly patiently and respectfully The natural uninhibited impartial conversations that transpire are a sight to behold Finding the right language to use around people with dementia and other mental health conditions is like the proverbial minefield It's so hard to negotiate that many people often don't bother But that's not teaching anyone anything and nor is it building important bonds between people with dementia and their carers friends and family members One of my colleagues summed it up perfectly recently when she said Labels are for objects on a shelf not people I couldn't agree more Let's start seeing the person not the illness Language is a great place to start Yvonne Manson is a dementia consultant with Balhousie Care Group which has 25 care homes around Scotland To find out more about Balhousie Care Group visit http www balhousiecare co uk ENDS

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