Do Caregivers Swear?

A day in the life as a caregiver

Job duties include but not limited to toileting, meal preparation and eating, bathing and skincare, dressing, house cleaning, medication management, ambulating, and socializing. There is a lot required of caregivers: prevent falls, be in constant contact, work around the clock, deal with families it can all be overwhelming! The use of profanity may not be appropriate out loud but has become useful as a coping mechanism.

Are people who swear more intelligent?

Yes, it can be a sign of intelligence! Knowing when to use words and which ones is actually a social cognitive skill. This skill is much like picking clothes appropriate for the seasonal weather or function. 

Swearing can be a sign of honesty. How can that be? When a cursing person expresses their emotions they are less likely to lie.

F-bombs and such words are helpful with pain tolerance. When we express profanity it helps our body deal with fight or flight responses in a way that suppresses pain signals. Besides being a natural analgesic swearing is part of coping response. While expressing strong words the mind is less likely to make the situation catastrophic.

A sign of creativity, really? Absolutely! Why not express inappropriate words with a bit of craziness. I recall my mother saying, Shit on a stick! Being religious using names in vain was strongly discouraged. What sayings have become comical per the situation?

Choosing to swear over physical harm is a form of aggression from a distance. Let it known feelings are heated but spare injuries and repercussions from direct contact.

No matter what language spoken it is universal for swearing. This doesn’t mean letting foul language fly constantly. Having a level of politeness is necessary but we are all human and if it slips, move on.

Despite the positives, Is cursing inappropriate?

Basically, yes! In the sense of word usage, inappropriate words are intended as degrading or having disrespect. Some say it’s part of free speech but the intensity of inappropriate usage may depend on the situation and whom may be offended. Attacking others or marking profanity on property isn’t alright. 

How do you deal with cursing?

The Harvard Health Publishing recommends when you hear swearing, try these guidelines:

  • Take a moment before saying anything. Unwanted behavior should not be the focus of attention.
  • Ask why. Try following up with questions such as, “What were you feeling when you said that?” You might reveal that they were angry or frustrated.
  • Problem-solve together. How else could you say that? What are other words to use when angry? What would you say if you were at church or Grandma’s house? Social behavior is a learned skill, being able to react appropriately per the situation can be challenging.
  • Explain acceptable behavior. If the word was directed at someone else, clearly express that this isn’t acceptable.  An explanation, that this is an assault and we don’t assault other people with words or physically. Frankly state, it’s not allowed. Also explain that people make mistakes and apologize for them.
  • Encourage understanding through questions. How do you think that word made the person feel? How would you feel? How would it make you feel if they said sorry? It all helps build empathy. When they show empathy, praise them. Keep in mind you want to support the behavior that you want to see.
  • Be concrete. Keep it simple: Swearing is something that adults do. It’s done at home, not in the store, a friend’s house, or the doctor’s office. Give examples of common rules they already know to reinforce context: You don’t cut in line. You don’t steal your coworkers lunch. 

Coping with dementia and behavior changes

As caregivers many have experienced behavior changes related to dementia. Often swearing can become a problem both at home and in public. Outbursts occur as a result of mental filters deteriorating. Fortunately we can learn to not take them personally and realize the frustration may be the result of an unmet need. In such situations using validation, redirection and distraction techniques can help calm the moment. If the situation seems unbearable do take time to cool off. Try to make light of the situation with humor. Despite dementia caregivers are not expected to tolerate abuse. In some cases assistance from a physician or other memory care services may be needed. Always remember, know your limits and respect yourself enough to recognize when caregiving becomes detrimental to your own physical and mental health.

Yes, shit happens. Don’t let compassion fatigue be the curse of caregivers. Let’s swear by healthy habits!

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