Humanity in Geriatric Department: When Love Endures <3

“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”

This is the marriage vow many people are familiar with, but how many people actually obey and keep the promise till death do them apart? With the divorce rate in the US approaching 50% among the married couples, what can we say about the solemn pledge on the wedding day?

Love, is the great affection for someone, something that God has beautifully made for human kinds to cherish and enjoy. And it is this unveiling of humanity in her elderly patients, is what Dr. Danielle Snyderman found as her fuel for difficult work. “Understanding my patients for who they truly are,” she said, “helps me to stay passionate about medicine and feel that I am staying above the systems challenges we, as doctors, face.”

So, in her off hours in 2013,Snyderman began formally interviewing patients at the Hill at Whitemarsh, the upscale retirement community in Lafayette Hill, where her practice is based, about their love stories.

The couples were happy to tell her how and when they had met and what had made their relationships survive. Many struggled with her kicker question: “How do you anticipate a time without each other?”

The stories have brought her closer to her patients. She believes her willingness to listen has heightened their trust in her. As she had hoped, knowing her patients better has helped her help them when medical problems worsened.

'He's our new Geriatric specialist!'

‘He’s our new Geriatric specialist to read about the love stories

I was really moved by some the stories recorded down by Dr. Snyderman. As a medical student, sometimes I tend to focus on the symptoms and signs presented by the patients, and forgot about the real concerns and expectations of them. We, as future doctors always want to relieve them from their physical illness, but often we neglect their mental, emotional and spiritual needs, especially in critically ill, paediatric or geriatric patients. These are the patients that are most vulnerable to medical exploitation as they cannot express their viewpoints in an explicit way. Thus, as healthcare professionals, we need to keep reminding ourselves, to level ourselves to the same level as the patients and to put ourselves into the same shoes that the patients are undergoing, so as to truly understand who they really are and what they really in need of. I guess, this is what most patients would appreciate us doing. In the end, patients and their family members just want to feel the sincere love and respect from healthcare workers despite their physical illness. ❤


Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field of medicine which includes the humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology,cultural studies, psychology, sociology, health geography) and the arts (literature, theater, film, and visual arts) and their application to medical education and practice. Medical humanities is also defined as an interdisciplinary, and increasingly international endeavor that draws on the creative and intellectual strengths of diverse disciplines, including literature, art, creative writing, drama, film, music, philosophy, ethical decision making, anthropology, and history, in pursuit of medical educational goals.


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