Given the current disquiet about the standards of care for our elderly citizens this is a very timely contribution to the debate. Marlis Pörtner’s book is not about specific nursing or therapy methods but about fundamental principles, which are vital in many areas of care. The term ‘carer’, therefore, is used here for all those who, professionally or voluntarily, work with older people, and the term ‘care’ embraces nursing as well as family, therapeutic and supportive activities.
Being Old is Different describes some basic person-centred principles and their implementation in everyday care for the elderly. Marlis Pörtner, who describes herself as an old person, aims to demonstrate why the person-centred approach is particularly useful in this field; how it can be transferred into practice; how it helps to improve the life quality of older people and, at the same time, make work more satisfying for carers.
1 Growing old is a strange experience
2 Foundations of person-centred work
3 Seven principles concerning old people
4 Essentials for everyday care
5 Professional and personal competence
6 Specific circumstances for consideration
7 Different realities
8 Outlook for the future
9 Being old is different ... for people with mental disabilities too
[Marlis Pörtner] writes with the insight and the authority of someone dedicated to the task of self-awareness and to the exercise of the idiosyncratic empathy which the kaleidoscopic range of elderly people who pass through the pages of her book demands. She is to be trusted because she so evidently practises what she preaches. Throughout the book colour and variety are added by the inclusion of telling vignettes which powerfully illustrate both the challenge and the beauty of those relationships which are crafted by a willingness on the part of the carers to refrain from diagnosis, impulsive reactions and rule-bound responses. I am encouraged by the example of Mr. L who at the age of 92 announced that he no longer wished to listen to the news during his breakfast. Clearly he had different business to attend to. Brian Thorne, The Norwich Centre. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, Winter 2007