The Power of Language

As seen in the Consultant Connection November 2015 Issue
submitted by: Lori Earnhart, Director of Sales and Marketing, ICP, Inc.
Language plays a crucial role in shaping the culture of aging and aging services in our society. The words we use when talking to and about older persons denote how they are valued, what is expected of them, and where they stand with respect to the speaker. What a person is called creates expectations about their behavior and sets the limits on how much growth and individual identity is deemed possible by those who serve them. The impact of new language is seen as a way of interacting that goes deeper into the core of peoples’ life experience. 
The new language will have a positive effect on how elders feel about themselves, how they think, and how functionally able they can be in daily life. Words do indeed make worlds. Part of transforming long-term care practice is finding new words to describe staff, programs, and the industry itself. The language of long-term care belongs to all of us—not only the “us” who work in this field but, at least as importantly, the elders and others with disabilities who require our services, their families, and the public. 

Old Words New Words
The Elderly
Elders, older adults
Person needing support
New Admit
Neighbor, offered a home here
My Friend
Bed (100 Bed Facility)
100 people live in this home
People who like to walk

Old Words New Words
Activities Meaningful things to do
Nourishment Snack
Soft Food Chopped Food
Bibs Napkin, clothing protector
Diaper, Pull-ups Briefs, panties, attends, pad
Hospital gown Pajamas, nightgown

Old Words New Words
Facility, Nursing Home Care Community, Home 
Nurses’ Station Work Area, Support Room
Storeroom Pantry
Unit Neighborhood
Ward, Wing Village, street, household
Bath Spa

Old Words New Words
Assist to . . . .
Move in
Toileting Using the bathroom
Baby-sit Resident interaction
MIA, elopement Taking a walk, left building
Allow Help, facilitate, welcome
Discharge Move out

Old Words New Words
Long-Term Care Industry Long-Term Care Community, Profession
Care Plan Problem Resident Strength
Problem Challenge/opportunity
That’s not my job I’ll take care of that
Sit down, you’ll fall Let’s Walk

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