Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Think Delirium? Think Frailty? I say Think Positively about us as People First @Ayrshirehealth

Here is my comment on the Ayrshire Health Blog post 'Flying without wings' by @mclaughlynn, 3 December 2014, about her trip to the European Delirium Association (EDA) conference in Cremona, Italy this November:

I really don't like this image
"As a 62 year old woman I am concerned about the focus on delirium and frailty, linked to "mental confusion" which might lead to an incorrect early diagnosis of dementia.  For I think that going into hospital for any treatment can be traumatic for patients young and old.  Away from home and the familiar. 

I would rather it was Think Person-Centred.  Treating each person as an individual human being, not seeing being old as a sign of weakness.  There are so many benefits to being older.  I can testify to this.  There is life experience, the stories gathered over the years, the memories which give colour and depth to life.  I'm not keen on these images in the blog, older people's faces with words stamped on them.  It can be seen as stigmatising or discriminatory.  Old age = Frailty = Delirium. 

Since entering my 60's I have become a prolific writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters.  Age has not slowed me down.  I am an unpaid carer, supporting two sons who have mental health difficulties.  I participate in many events as an "expert by experience".  My life is very full and interesting.  I look upon old age as an opportunity to use my life skills, qualifications and experiences to their maximum.  I wouldn't like to think that because of my older age my words were somehow less valuable.

I realise that this blog is geared towards nurses and hospital staff but for me as a potential patient it is offputting to hear how I might be viewed if confused after hospital procedures.  At risk of labelling in the medical notes as frail or delirious or demented.  That is indeed frightening.  It would make me think twice about going in to hospital for treatment.  Would I come out again as a person or as a diagnosis of dementia? 

Let's not lose sight of the many benefits of old age and the elderly in our communities.  We are a resource and the means by which stories are passed down the family, from generation to generation.  Think Positively about us as People First, is my exhortation."

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