Elderspeak Communication

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Elderspeak is a common communication method that is used in nursing homes, acute care hospitals, and other settings where elders reside. It is also frequently used when we speak to older adults, regardless of the particular setting. This style of speech is characterized as being much slower, having an exaggerated intonation, elevated pitch and volume, greater repetitions, and incorporates a simpler vocabulary and grammar than normal adult speech. Research has shown that the speech pattern used typically with the elderly is based on stereotyping and myth as opposed to the reality of the aging process. A number of researchers have conducted studies where a brief educational program was designed to increase the awareness of Certified Nursing…show more content…
Most healthcare providers who practice elderspeak may not even realize the negative impact that can be perceived by the recipients as a result of using this form of communication. There are many potential problems associated with the use of elderspeak. One of the major problems relates to the potential of negatively impacting the self-esteem of those to whom it is being directed towards. It has also been reported that through the use of elderspeak, “staff may unknowingly reinforce dependency and engender isolation and depression… contributing to the spiral of decline in physical, cognitive, and functional status” (Williams et al, 2003). Healthcare providers who engage in elderspeak can actually contribute to the decline of their patients, representing the total opposite of good healthcare practice for which most healthcare workers strive to achieve. It has also been reported that the stereotyping of older adults can have an impact on the quality of information being relayed to the patient. For example, “providers have been found to provide more information, offer more support, and share more decision-making with clients who are younger compared to older adults” (Williams et al, 2004). Studies conducted by Kristine Williams have reported an increased incidence of elderspeak by healthcare providers and describe her efforts in addressing this problem. One of her studies (2004) looked at strategies to improve the communication between
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