Dr. Paul Ruskin of Baltimore (MD) is a geriatric psychiatrist. He presented the following case to a group of nursing students:
"The patient I will discuss is a white female. She neither speaks or comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented as to person, place and time. She shows disregard for her physical appearance and has to be assisted in her own care. She must be fed and bathed by others. She is incontinent and has to be changed and bathed. Her sleep pattern is erratic. She awakens in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she seems friendly and happy. However, several times a day she becomes agitated without any apparent cause and screams loudly until someone comes to comfort her."
Dr. Ruskin asked the nursing students their feelings about caring for such a patient. He heard words like "hopeless," "depressed," and "frustrated." He told the nurses he cared for this patient and thought they would enjoy it too. Then Dr. Ruskin passed around a photograph of his six month-old daughter. After the laughter subsided he asked why it is so much more difficult to care for a 90 year old female with the same symptoms than for a 6 month old female.
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