Headlines during the time of COVID-19 foretell more semantic warmth for the elderly than I have ever read and heard before. That is the underlying tone of my following remarks.
Changes in tone
Negative tones have increased since the time of the ancients. Then and now are variations of the ancient traditional tripartite genre of communication: deliberative, in government; forensic, in the courts of law; and epidictic, in eulogies or commemorative statements. Plato supported the oral, far less the written.
Our media today go far beyond the human voice. Foremost are our online social platforms read each second by thousands; crude, personal attacks appear often. Too often peevish spites replace reason; vulgarity replaces calmness, shouting berates politeness. Condemnation of handling the virus is intense.
The semantic genre for journalism too often creates disturbing images of our pandemic: “total pandemonium; “treated him like trash;” “incoherent knowledge;” ”devastating toll;” “patch work of nonsense;” “’Nightmares for the health giver;” “A collection of chasms;” “Spinning out of control;” “An irrational disgrace;” and I could lengthen the list endlessly for pages.
Tone for seniors
Fortunately, in my hundreds of readings, I never saw or heard the above rhetorical negatives describing seniors in long-term facilities. Let me restate that: seniors in residential communities are residents, acolytes under the guidance of healthcare providers.
Described resident torments are the result of the alleged managers. If there is a positive for seniors in the pandemic, it raises seniors’ issues to the highest level, far beyond the single recognition day that WHO sets aside for Oct 1 . Compared to finding fault, more positive descriptions build on sought improvements.
There is little doubt that empathy and concern for seniors is formidable today; headlines certainly a part of the social-cultural arena. Newspaper headlines, commentaries, TV reviews, the increasing presence of the aging world’s society is given a prominence in innumerable media. I have yet to read a negative headline censuring seniors.
While the momentum is currently positive for care of seniors, that whole area faces unsolved problems. That list is long and demands a share of financial support. Again depending on the source, 82-85% desire to remain in their homes — they also are receiving affirmative recognition. We will wait and see if the result of the positive tones in today’s media affects policy regarding home care or community residential care.
In summary, we are not through yet or fully understanding of the medical variations of the coronavirus. But what we do know is that seniors throughout the world are receiving belated recognition in highly affirmative tones.
I end with a favorite maxim from the distinguished Chinese philosopher: “It is a joy to learn; but then one must practice what has been learned.” Hopefully, the support of the media for seniors will not decrease.
Herb Hildebrandt Ph.D, Hl.D., a founder and current resident of Glacier Hills, Ann Arbor, MI, Trinity Health’s Glacier Hill’s senior living facility.