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Language Matters in Caregiving

Oct 9, 2020

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by Debra Hallisey, Advocate for Mom and Dad

That includes what we tell ourselves.

If you know my work, you know how much I object to the term “Parenting Your Parents.” I object because language carries intent and bias and we don’t even realize it. The words we use to describe caregiving, our care partner and ourselves create our truth as caregivers. When caregiving is about parenting your parents, without even realizing it, permission is given to treat them as a child in both word and deed.

Colleague Sue Montgomery has a been a registered nurse for over 35 years in various settings and roles—from staff nurse to administrator in critical care, hospice, the health insurance industry, and as a healthcare content writer. It is in the context of healthcare writing and social media that I am familiar with Sue’s work.

Her response to my article and her subsequent article got me thinking. The internal dialogue in our head also matters. When we uses language like “burden” to describe our situation, it reinforces the hardest of this work.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that for many caregivers thrust into this role, it is an incredible hardship, a burden if you will. But if we can change our internal dialogue to use words that have a less negative connotation, like challenge, my hope is that it can make our acceptance of this role a bit easier and the journey a better one.

Click here to read the article: Changing the language of family caregiving.

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