I was in the mall this weekend and found myself passing judgement on others based on how people looked, or were dressed.
” Check out the dude with blue hair…what a weirdo”….I whispered to my friends.
” Did you see that woman? She had to be at least 600 pounds”….another whisper. The whispering continued….
” Check out that guy over there with the tattoo on his FACE…”
” Wow, did you see that teenager with barely any clothes on? Her parents let her out of the house looking like that?”……….
” Look at that gangsta, he should invest in a belt or pants that fit…..”
” Aww, look at the older couple, holding hands, aren’t they cute?”……
Amazing how we define what we see, based on what we are looking for. We are all quick to judge based on what we see without thought to what we know. You know it’s true….and you know you are guilty of making assumptions and passing judgement; it’s only human to do so.
The same is true with dementia patients. We label them as “demented” and quickly forget that he/she is a person…We speak loudly to them, but yet, they do not have hearing loss. We direct them to “sit down”, “eat your food” and “let’s go to the bathroom” as if they are children. Yet, they are not children. We toss all dementia patients in the same proverbial hat and treat them all the same, without consideration for the unique person each was, is, or will be.
Look at Willie. He lost his wife, so he grieves. Since he has a diagnosis of dementia, we ignore his feelings of loss, sadness and grief, choosing to medicate with antidepressants to offset the dementia related disorder. Hmm. The label of dementia supercedes what is actually happening in his life. Labeled.
Look at Rev. Carmichael. He has dementia. BUT, he jumped out of a second story window before arriving at my facility. The documentation stated he jumped out of the window because of ” dementia and not knowing what he was doing”. After spending time with him, we learned that he wanted to die because he had no purpose for living. His wife had passed away, he was no longer a pastor, and he felt trapped inside of his 620 foot apartment. Yet,he was labeled as ” a dementia patient”……..
Look at Steve. Younger guy who recently moved in. He has dementia. But, at the psych hospital, someone asked him if he ever took illegal drugs. He said yes. So his chart reads, “dementia related to heroin and other mild altering drug abuse.” Ask Steve ” Is the sky red?”.. Answer “Yes”. “Am I an alien”? Answer “Yes.” ” Do you shoot Heroin?” Answer, ” Yes”. Are you the President of the USA?”……Answer…… “YES”. Now he is labeled as drug-induced onset dementia patient. Funny thing is, his family will tell you that he never took drugs, except for smoking pot in his younger days… yet he is not LABELED.
From all of this, I draw one conclusion. We as humans, need to stop labeling one another. We need to invest in the lives of others before we form conclusions, make casual assumptions or form opinions. Sounds simple. But is it?