I usually talk about how to choose first names, but deciding when to use those first names is another important topic. Paula Span, a contributor to the New York Times blog The New Old Age, published a post today about health care professionals who address elderly patients by their first names. Here’s an excerpt:
Nurses, technicians, therapists: Everyone seems to find it perfectly appropriate — friendly, even — to refer to people in their 70s and 80s not as Miss, Mrs. or Mr., but as Sally, Frieda or Carl.
What’s wrong with that? As a hospital patient, “you’re suddenly in this strange environment in which you have no control,” [nurse Kris DeWeese] explained. “You’re practically naked, and people are coming in and out of your room, asking personal questions and examining you. And you already feel sick and worried.”
“To be addressed with extra respect, even if someone is asking you about your bowel movements, gives some recognition that you’re still the able, competent person you were before you came into the hospital,” Ms. DeWeese said.
The comments are very interesting as well. Definitely think about forwarding the post to anyone you know who works with the elderly (in any capacity).