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Caregiver Curmudgeon’s
Communication Commandments

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Please allow me once again to don my cantankerous caregiver curmudgeon robes and talk about something that has been bothering me as of late regarding language.

Now, stay awake; this is important stuff.

When we created Today’s Caregiver magazine 18 years ago, there were very few voices in the wilderness talking about the issue of family caregiving. There are now (thankfully) a significant amount of people talking and writing about caregivers and caregiving, as well as representing family caregivers on their television programs. So now, I think, is the time to establish some mutually agreed upon language commandments about caregiving. Language is so very important because the words we use help establish the feelings we have as a society about subjects of great importance. And what can be more important than caregiving?

Some of the Caregiver Curmudgeon’s Communication Commandments

  • Lest ye not suffer unto us the words “suffer,” "suffering with," and (worst of all) "victim" when talking about our loved ones. For example, a person living with Alzheimer’s disease also has many more facets to their existence of importance to themselves and those who love them. People do not need to be dehumanized by being categorized, classified and defined by their disease, in person or in print. The fact that our loved ones are battling these diseases or illnesses should not be their defining characteristic when writing or talking about them. (Feel free to replace the word “Alzheimer's" in the above sentence with any other disease, illness or disorder.) I am actually astonished by how many experts use these phrases in their press releases, books and writings. I don't know about you, but I think we can all do better.

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