Among the first words I ever learned to speak as a child were, “please, thank you, may I, and yes sir/no sir/yes m’aam/no ma’m.” I was taught to respect my elders. I was taught to give my seat to anyone older than myself.I was taught to hold the door open for the person entering a building behind me. Respect for others, in both actions and words, were instilled in me by my parents.
Sitting in my office, I hear how employees , visitors and family members interact with one another. I know people often don’t mean to be harsh, brazen or downright rude, but people need to remember that words are often felt more so than heard. The way we speak, the tone of our voice and the volume of our voice need to always carry the vibes of kindness and respect for those we are speaking to. Dementia patients may not be able to “understand” the words spoken, but they can sense the tone of frustration, anger, resentment or agitation. If you yourself were in a state of confusion, and approached by a not-so-friendly voice demanding “let’s go shower”, you would probably feel fearful, intimidated and at the mercy of the caretaker. Rather, if you were approached by a kind voice, a gentle touch, and asked if you would like a shower, your reaction would be more favorable for both parties. Family members often speak harshly to their loved one as well, yelling commands of “Come on daddy if you want me to take you out today. If you don’t get up you’re staying here”. Dementia does not cause deafness….yelling at the dementia patient will only increase their anxiety. They can hear you, they just don’t recognize the words you are saying. Listening to the staff interact between themselves is really no better. ” Maybe you should get up off your backside and answer the call light cuz it sure don’t look like it’s going to answer itself .” Really? We wonder why staff morale is down, maybe we should all look in the mirror and have a chat with the person staring back.
Have you ever watched someone hold a baby and listened to the one sided conversation? It’s actually very kind, soft spoken, gentle and soothing language we use. The baby, who does not understand one word spoken, normally goo-ggoes,kicks it’s little feet out and smiles at back. Why can we not learn to speak to one another in the same way?
Unlike every other blog I write, I have no theory on why humans act and speak to one another as they do. I don’t know why we as humans can not treat each other with kindness, and speak to one another with respect. The other day I was in line at the grocery store and observes a woman, who, based on the way she was speaking to her child, was on the verge of a nervous break-down. ” Timmy, you are driving me up the——— wall today. I have told you NO. NO. NO. No means——– NO. Don’t ask me again. Do you hear me? NO MEANS——- NO”. Wow. Since when is it okay to curse at kids? And we wonder why those kids grow up to the disrespectful, back-talking teenagers?
So, I guess we live in an age where respect is optional. It apparently is acceptable to speak to one another harshly, while cursing them all in the same breath. We yell at our aged parents, curse at our kids, and interact with one another in a challenging way. People should be made to wear video cameras that record not only how they speak, but how their body language portrays them and how it all sounds. I would hope most would be embarrassed by how they come across.