Advocacy, Antipsychotic drugs, Humour, Toward better care

10 nursing humour memes that are tragically unfunny


I see all kinds of statistics and information in the backend of this blog, including how visitors get here, what they read and what they click on. Some time ago, I noticed an uptick of Pinterest referrals. I decided to investigate. What I found made me cry.

I discovered this image, from my post entitled “the worldwide case against giving antipsychotics to elderly people living with dementia:”


Someone had modified it to create a “funny” meme, which they had posted on a board entitled “Nursing Humour:”

My mind flashed back to a scene I will never forget: Mom in the long-term care facility doing what she could to resist taking the antipsychotic medications a nurse was attempting to give her. She sat at the breakfast table, lips pressed shut while the nurse tried to force a spoonful of pills between them. Mom finally batted the nurse’s hand away and the pills fell to the floor. The nurse glared at Mom. “That’s one way to rid of them,” she snapped before walking away, back ramrod straight. At some level, Mom knew what those meds did to her, and she didn’t want to take them. Instead, she wanted to “keep going.

When I saw this meme, the image of which had been grabbed from my post advocating against giving antipsychotics to elderly people who live with dementia, I felt sick. I thought of the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who live with dementia in Quebec, across Canada and around the world who are given drugs they don’t want and don’t need, against their will, every day. It’s no joke. It’s elder abuse on a massive scale.

Then I did a little poking around on Pinterest and found more “nursing humour” memes in the same vein. It made me despondent to think those to whom we entrust the care of those we love would find these funny. “It’s just gallows humour,” you might say, “don’t let it upset you.” But I think there’s always some truth behind dark humour, and in this case it breaks my heart.

This is not to say there aren’t good, caring, compassionate nurses doing amazing work under impossible circumstances. There are. Many. I hold those courageous women and men in high esteem. And then there are the others, the ones who should perhaps rethink their choice of career.


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Image copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

6 thoughts on “10 nursing humour memes that are tragically unfunny”

  1. This makes me so, so sad. Is there any way to reach out to the people doing this to call them out on it or educate them somehow? Can you post comments to their posts?


    1. It makes me sad to Mary Sue. It’s a good idea to post comments – maybe I could post a link to this blog post in some places where the memes have been posted. Thanks for the suggestion. On the other hand, I want to try to focus my attention on where it’s going to have the greatest impact. I often get distracted and end up all over the map!


  2. I don’t know how I’m just now reading this post Susan as it’s nearly one year later. Regardless, I’m beyond appalled, horrified, and so deeply saddened by these audacious and downright cruel “memes”! As the grieving adult daughter/loving Care Partner of the my brilliant 93 year old mother who died a few months ago after enduring Dementia, blindness, and heart disease, I find these vicious visual “jokes” make fun of our most precious and vulnerable loved ones. It makes me nauseous and extremely angry! In fact, I deliberately investigated the Pinterest board of one of the perpetrators. It’s frightening to realize that she is a young nurse! I checked out Pinterest’s policies to see what can be done – if anything. It looks like these awful pins can be removed if complaints are made based on the fact that they are attacks on a specific population. I may be wrong, but don’t you think it would be worth pursuing? Please let us know if we can assist.


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