I hate the word “place”, or the verb “to place”.  I know that is a strong word but that is how I feel when it comes time to helping a senior relocate to a retirement residence. 

I hear the word “place” or “to place a senior” everywhere: in residences, from families, seniors themselves and professionals in the field, even from builders of facilities.  “We place seniors in a retirement residence.” “I put my Mom in a home.”

Why do we say that? It brings on so many negative emotions and thoughts.  Do you want to be ‘placed’ when the day comes when you need help?  I DO NOT.  My whole body cringes when I hear that word.  Whenever someone uses the word in conversation with me I let them finish their sentence, and then share with them my dislike for that word and explain to them why it irks me so much. 

The word means to “drop off” or “dump and ignore”….seniors feel it, families feel it too.   If we were to think of it as ‘finding a solution for the present situation’, it brings on a positive approach, does not make someone feel guilty and/or a burden on anyone. Personally I think that if we move away from “placing seniors” to helping seniors find a solution to meet their needs, that we, as a whole, will change the entire approach on ageing. 

The seniors of today have built and contributed to what the younger generation is living in today—that should be honoured and certainly not swept under the carpet nor pushed off to the side.

I have conversed with other professionals who have strong feelings about words in their field.  Sitting with a grief counsellor at one point when I said that someone had passed away, she leaned forward and said, “Please say died and not passed away.  By saying the word died you will be more direct and less evasive towards everything that surrounds death.”  I saw where she was coming from and understand her passion for her profession and her dislike of a word.  I was grateful that she shared it with me.

While visiting a retirement residence and showing the director a copy of my French book she said, “Oh I hate the word “senior” (in French it is ‘personne âgée’- the word she dislikes)”.  I asked her what she would change it to but she had no suggestion, it is simply a word she dislikes.

In whatever field you work in, I encourage you to share with the people around you a word, a term or an approach you have strong feelings for and to try and ‘convert’ those around you- with respect, and no bullying of course!  If you do not share your convictions and passions it will be harder for us to improve as a collective.  Stand up for what you believe in, and do not hesitate to take a stand. 

My ultimate objective is to attract attention to this word “place” and to highlight the negative thoughts that it brings on. I want to encourage everyone (seniors, families, friends, professionals, builders of retirement residences….everyone who uses this word and trust me the list is quite long…) to move away from the word “place” to look at this approach and step in life as “finding a solution(s)”.  Together, I strongly feel, the latter approach will change the whole outlook on ageing!

In your field, what are the words, terms or approaches that you strongly dislike and that you would like to change? 

I would love to hear from you: info@HelpingSeniors.ca

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