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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Look, up in the sky /   Editorial List

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 Look, up in the sky

I know as we approach Valentine’s Day, the talk should turn to love and all that mushy stuff.  To the contrary, I am feeling the urge to dash into a local phone booth (as if there were any) and take my alter ego out of mothballs for a spin.  Yes, Elizabeth, there is a Curmudgeon Man!

What has brought Curmudgeon Man out of hibernation is the English language or, better stated, the misapplication of the English language.  The fact that Curmudgeon Man cares about this has just caused his high school English teacher to do a Danny Thomas spit-take of his coffee.  (For anyone under 50, use the Google machine and look it up.)

So into the breach he goes once again:

  • For anyone writing about caregiving and family healthcare issues, when you write about our loved ones, please do not use the words “suffering with” as in “Grandma was suffering with Alzheimer’s” or “Dan was suffering with lung cancer.”  The fact that our loved ones are battling these diseases or illnesses should not be their defining characteristic.


  • And (I apologize to some really nice and good authors out there) I think we should strike the phrase “parenting our parents” out of the lexicon.  Even if many of the tables have turned and you are doing a lot of the traditional parenting duties for your own parents, they have never stopped being your parents.  How about “partnering with our parents”?


  • I love to read when the people for whom we care are referred to as “loved ones” or even “clients” as opposed to “care recipients” or “patients.”

As they say in elementary school, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Perhaps, but they can stigmatize and negatively define a relationship in a way that you didn’t mean for it to be defined.

I still like my favorite word for a family caregiver—hero.