A Note on Unoffensive Language
I completely agree with Guila Franklin Siegel (Season for Offensive Terms for Disabilities Has Passed, Feb. 14) that no one should ever use offensive language like “retard” or “cripple.” However, I disagree on the totality of her message that the term “wheelchair bound” is offensive.
My late father Leon, z”l, about five years ago, suffered from rapidly increasing dementia in his nursing home. We had a power of attorney. He could not understand as he stood up from his wheelchair that, even one step forward, meant he would immediately fall. We would get calls multiple times any time, day and night, that my dad fell and “he was OK.”
I met with the team. I asked them to please belt him in his wheelchair as they did in his previous rehab. A nurse, almost apologetically, told me, “Your father has rights. He has a right to stand and to fall down.”
I was not angry at her because she was following the state’s regulations. I understand that some nursing homes decades before abused the elderly, and laws were created to give the patient rights. I said I was willing to sign a release to take away all responsibility from the facility. No way, they said. The state’s laws were going to tie my hands, and my dad was going to die from a fall.
I called the lawyer for the facility and told him the facility was going to kill my father and I had been turned down to sign a release. I finally heard some concern, not surprisingly. He said he would look into the situation. My father died in his sleep from pneumonia two weeks later. It was a blessing.
No, Guila. My father was wheelchair bound and I wish he was not, but that is the fact and reality and in no way offensive to him or anyone. Please, as we all live in an increasingly politically correct country, let’s look beyond what we see in our life and understand that your feelings are no more important then mine. We all have a right to our feelings and our right to respect others who disagree. What a better world we would be.
~ Harry Kozlovsky