Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Old does not mean decrepit

  • Comment
I had never seen anything like it before. Just on one of the main roads of the town, a small, low building sat.

Equipped with hanging baskets and benches outside and comfortable chairs inside, the sign over the door read ‘Over 60s Rest Room’. I grabbed my mother’s arm with glee.

I assured her that we could go in for her to have a rest if she felt the need; that if the day was too tiring I could always install her in one of those comfortable-looking armchairs with a paper while I did the shopping.

I was rewarded with a glare. But she did agree to pose for photos outside.

‘Put them on your Facebook profile,’ I suggested.

Then the utter absurdity of the situation fully hit home. My mother is 64. She works full time and has a far better social life than her daughter. And she’s definitely more computer literate than me.

Yet she’s categorised as a pensioner, as someone eligible to go and sit down in what was formerly designated as an ‘Old Folks’ Rest Room’, as the plaque behind the hanging basket said.

Yet we do it all the time. We scrabble frantically through the dictionary to find the right term to use – do we call older people just that – older? Or does it smack of comparison – wouldn’t ‘seniors’ be better? But that sounds a bit like ‘senile’, doesn’t it?

Let’s think of another word. ‘Elderly’ used to be fine but then we have to define when it starts. I wouldn’t dare apply it to my mother.

We score people’s likelihood of developing pressure ulcers based on their age, we make assumptions and we pigeonhole them according to category.

Nursing has always aimed to individualise care – but how far do we succeed?

Arabella Sinclair-Penwarden is a newly qualified staff nurse

Want to read more starting out? Just click on the more by this author link at the top of the page.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.