That was the headline for a column in The Dallas Morning News yesterday that was written by a 90-year-old woman, Helen Mitchell.
The point of her column was that nurses and medical staff often refer to the older patients as Sweetie, Honey, or Darling during exams, x-rays and other medical procedures. She acknowledges that the intent is not be be patronizing or condescending. “You’re just trying to be nice and you think that just because I am old and weak and sometimes in a wheelchair that I’m fragile or delicate – like a child.
“But I’m not a child.”
I remember hearing similar sentiments from patients when I was working in a large hospital as a chaplain. The patients often asked me why medical staff has a tendency to do that. Like Mrs. Mitchell said — I can’t refer to her as Helen as she did not give me permission to – I don’t think people realize that using those endearments is anything but endearing. When staff was open to it, I would suggest that perhaps they rethink that approach to the older patients. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t.
Now that I have a few more wrinkles and a little more gray in my hair, I’m experiencing the same thing sometimes, and I cringe inside when I hear it. I also don’t like to be called by my first name by everyone in a doctor’s office, especially on a first visit. If I must call you doctor or nurse, then you can call me Mrs. Miller. After we have established a rapport, then I may give you permission to call me Maryann.
Here is a LINK to the full article by Mrs. Mitchell. Well worth the read.
What do you think about this issue? Or is it even an issue for you?