To the Editor:
I am currently pursuing a course of study directed toward a Doctorate of Nursing Science at Catholic University of America. My research interests include the phenomenon of elder malnutrition, specifically elder failure to thrive. I am a certified nutrition support nurse and am now delving more deeply in the literature of gerontologie nursing and looked to your journal as a source of scholarly, dignified research.
It was with dismay I discovered your article in the April 1996 issue (pp. 6-12) titled, "Feederposition and food and fluid consumed by nursing home residents." You see, I am from the Midwest and have lived in farm communities where "feeder" has a different meaning. That meaning has to do with cattle kept in a feedlot. The meaning of feedlot found in Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus is "an enclosed area where livestock are fed and fattened before slaughter."
I was particularly pained to see the authors were all nurses. I am ashamed of the profession and this journal's insensitivity. How is it possible that nurses use this kind of hateful labeling? The irony is that according to Webster's New World Dictionary, the root word for nurse, nurture, and nutrition are the same: ñutiré, meaning to nourish. I now have a new, albeit painful, insight into what it is to be a nursing home resident and possibly why rates of malnutrition are so high in nursing homes. Maybe the way it is possible for nursing home residents to take food is to be treated as human beings, not cattle.
Cathy Cole, MS, RN, CNSN
I am surprised by Ms. Cole's comments. There are many words in the English language where usage and meaning differ depending on context, intent, or even geography. Many verbs can easily be converted to nouns, e.g., run/runner, drink/drinker, love/lover. Thus, a person who feeds someone (or something) becomes "feeder. " Because the verb "to feed" is applied both to humans and animals, why should not the noun derived from it (feeder) be used in the same manner, notwithstanding possible other usage in some localities? Would Ms. Cole also object to the use of "playpen" for toddlers only because "pen * can also be applied to cattle?
"Feeder, " when applied to humans, is an accepted word of the English language. Not only does Webster's New World Dictionary define "feeder" as "a person or thing that feeds," but this term is used also in connection with humans in the literature. I believe the intelligent reader will readily understand what is meant. To refer to it as "hateful labeling" misses the point.
Sally Kennedy Holzapfel
Pottersville, New Jersey