Sunday, November 11, 2012

Preserving the dignity of our elderly and the aged

Getting older has a lot of challenges apart from the fact that the younger generation think you have had it past the age of forty or so and after fifty you are definitely on the road to senility if not senile already. The Y generation is in a hurry to push us off the cliff face and into oblivion. There are too many of us and we take up too many resources, I overheard this being stated by a couple of thirty somethings the other day. Great to know that once we hit fifty we have, seriously, zero use for the rest of the world apart from providing employment to younger people who will staff the nursing homes where we might all eventually end up. I hope to die in my own bed peacefully with my slippers under it and in my sleep. However for whatever reasons, that choice is denied to some of our senior citizens who need to go to a home. They have maybe high needs in the area of physical health and are frail.
That fragility means they have to have certain necessary daily functions that we enjoyed doing for ourselves done for us. They need assistance with showers, dressing and any number of other functions that most of us would prefer to do for ourselves.
Privacy and preserving one's dignity are important to older people. All of us start life in nappies and many of us also end them in nappies. Oh, surprise, surprise you may say, but it is true. Not many of us give much thought to incontinence until we or a friend or relative is faced with such. It is not pleasant to leak bodily fluids uncontrollably but that is what happens, whether through illness or muscles wearing out through normal wear and tear, child bearing or otherwise. It happens. We don't talk about it because let's face it, it is not really the most inspiring topic of conversation.
In an aged home there are many people who need assistance with showering. It is bad enough to have to have another person with you in your shower, but a member of the opposite sex?
Most elderly women grew up in an era which was remarkably different to today's world where standards are very lax. Even so there are still women who would not want a man to shower them. It does not matter that he is a nurse or as in the case of an older lady friend of mine, if he is gay as he stated to her.
She told him, 'I am religious, I do not want a man showering me'.  'That's alright,' he told her, 'I am gay.'
So big DEAL, you are gay? Does that change the fact that you are a man? No. You may be gay as gay as gay, but you are still a man and still have the physical appearance of a man. Most women whether they are in their nineties or in their fifties, do not want a man showering them and wiping their bottom for them, unless they are in the final stages of dementia and even then, if when they were with their full faculties, likely to object if they were to be showered by a man, why should they have to accept it in the last stages of dementia. Can't we as a society preserve their dignity and modesty to the end of their life?
I would not want a man showering me and especially not if he was gay and nor would I feel comfortable about a lesbian showering me. Aren't there any normal people around to do these jobs and we need to respect the modesty and decency of our elderly. Can you imagine an elderly gentleman wanting to be bathed or showered by someone who is as camp as a row of tent pegs?
There are other professions and if a gay person wants to be a nurse, good but don't think you can walk into an elderly lady's room and offer to bath her and say its ok because I am gay. You are still a man. It is not ok. Some men who you might have to bathe may not also want to know your sexual preferences and it may make them uncomfortable, so don't wear a sign on your chest about it. Do I announce at the beginning of an  English class 'Hello, I am Ms Leeds your new English teacher. I am a Heterosexual.'  The students would think I am some sort of fruit cake. Heterosexual or not. If I can be quiet about being hetero surely they could shut up about being gay.


dcarm said...

Might it occur to you that he thought he was reassuring her that he was not interested in her sexually?
When we don't need to talk about our sexuality any more, to protect ourselves against discrimination and to fight for our rights, then we'll shut up about being gay.

Also, you raise an interesting contradiction. You don't want us to talk about it, but you specifically mention that you wouldn't want to be showered by a Lesbian. How, praytell, do you expect anyone to be able to comply with that request if we all shut up about being gay?

Phil said...

Just be grateful that there is someone who is a decent caring human being who is prepared to wash you. Who cares if they are gay, straight, transgender or painted purple - the only thing that matters is that they are prepared to be there for you.

In a world with so many uncaring people, if you keep up this judgement of others, you will find fault in everyone prepared to help you. How sad!!

Ilana Leeds said...

@ decam
You just do not get it, do you? In a world where modesty is a thing of the past and probably out dated to your way of thinking. The fact that an older person or even a younger helpless person might find it very disturbing to be undressed and handled by a member of the opposite sex and even of the same sex to be honest, is for you strange. In a day and age, where people have sex like shaking hands at times and it is considered a necessary function for some like eating or drinking, the fact that there are people who view their body as a sacred and private part of themselves, not to be handled by just anyone, is a difficult concept to comprehend. If you also carry that one step further, even a husband does not have the right to force a wife to have marital relations and a child does not have to be kissed or fondled by a parent or close relative if she or he feels not comfortable with such contact for whatever reason. Every person has the right to say No and have that NO respected, even a four year old or younger child.
Would I want to be showered by a lesbian? No if a nurse came to my door and said 'I am a lesbian and I am going to give you a shower.' I would immediately reply. 'Thank you. I will do it myself or remain un-showered.'However if that same person came to the door and said I am here to give you your shower and did just that with no fuss or discussion, I would not have a problem. Do you get the difference.
The fact that you bring it back to sexuality means that you have completely MISSED the point I am making. It is not about him being interested in a woman who is old enough to be his grandmother, for goodness sake. That is a bit weird in and of itself to suggest it even, it is the fact that he is a man and she is a woman and a religious woman. There are non religious women who do not feel comfortable being bathed by young male nurses, gay or not gay.
this whole gay thing is a narcissistic load of crap by people who have real problems with gender identity and that is my other point.
Phil, I would rather remain dirty and smelly. There are far more caring people in the world than just gay people. There are some pretty selfish, egotistic gay people in the world. What about those with the HIV virus who have unprotected sex with other men and do not tell them their HIV status unless they are asked? You call that caring? I call that irresponsible, vile and totally narcissistic behaviour. I judge care by the behaviour of people towards others and if they really care, they put others' needs before their own. The lady did and does not want to be bathed by a man. Get it?
Doctors, I can hear some of you say? They touch women in many places in the course of examinations but to be honest, doctors study for six to ten years and they with few exceptions see the human body differently. Also for some tests I would not go to a male doctor if I can get a female to do it. That is why we have female doctors. That is why education for men and women is important.
The fact that someone like Phil wants to force people to accept what they do not feel happy or comfortable with is sad, very sad and who is being judgemental??

dcarm said...

Illana. You might be surprised to hear that I come from a very religious background. Modesty isn't dead, and I *do* understand her concern. I personally would hate to be in a situation where I needed someone else to shower or toilet me.

I am making the point that the nurse probably thought he was reassuring her with that statement, telling her that as far as he's concerned, it's just flesh.

He didn't say "I'm gay and I'm here to shower you" He reacted to the woman's discomfort in a way he thought might reassure her.

I'm going to ignore your narcissist jab since I can't see how it relates to your point at all.

In relation to your last point, I have a newsflash for you: Nurses see so much human body that they also see it differently. In fact, they probably see much more of it than most doctors because these are the people who change things, wash you, toilet you etc. I fail to see your point on the HIV thing too. You really think that doesn't happen to straight people?

And to finish up, it's dcarm. Show your readers some respect and at least get my name right.

Ilana Leeds said...

My apologies for the typo. People do make them. Your point is trivial and petty. I do show readers far more respect than you show the elderly.
Your viciousness is unparalleled and vindictive. To be honest, I really doubt that you come from a religious home because you have no understanding of the term tznius. Modesty entails respect for oneself and others. To so disrespect the person as to have no comprehension of an elderly woman's discomfort at being confronted by a man who is 'trying to reassure her by saying, anyway, I am gay, so therefore I have no sexual interest in you' SHOWS HOW COMPLETELY YOU HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD the point being made here. It is something far deeper which you will never understand, because frankly I do not think you would want to and you are quite happy with the way you view the universe, but it is not how I and others view it. I can see your point but do not agree with it.