Communicating with the Elderly

As a child growing up I was always taught to respect my elders. I think that is a general rule that most people follow.

Most times our intention towards the elderly is one of kindness and compassion. Grandparents are a big part of our lives and when we see other elderly people we are reminded of them.

Everyone would love to stay young forever but alas we all age with time.

Many people often allow themselves to subconsciously feel superior to what they perceive as the frail and weak aged generation.

This leads them to take on an almost ‘motherly’ attitude and they often find themselves talking down to the elderly in the way they might speak to a child. By using unnecessarily simplified words or voice modulations.

There is a vast difference between being friendly and helpful than being condescending.

Words like ‘sweetie” or ‘dearie’ can be very embarrassing, many of my friends have said that they felt belittled when spoken to this way. As I have got older I have found that many people tend to speak to me and to others around my age in the same manner.

As I have got older I have found that many people tend to speak to me and to others around my age in the same manner.

According to a ground-breaking study, speaking down to the elderly does more than hurt them emotionally, it also has a detrimental effect on their health.

Many elderly people do have difficulty with their hearing, and can have other health problems and need to be treated accordingly. However, not all older adults have these problems. Many are in practically perfect mental and physical health.

As a general rule, older adults maintain their existing vocabulary. They have no problem understanding complicated words any more than adults of any other age group.

Talk with respect by articulating, speaking clearly and making eye contact as well speaking at a comfortable volume that is suitable to both of you

Many people seem to forget that older people have the same thoughts and feelings as the younger people. We are another person, the same as you in an older body.

I have listed a few of the mistakes made by business people when dealing with the elderly:

A daughter took her mother to see the doctor, the doctor smiled and looking at the daughter said “What are we here for today” The mother looked at the doctor and replied, “Ask me I am sitting opposite you.”  She was both humiliated and upset.

Shopkeepers often look at older people that are dressed in modest or classical style and think that they wouldn’t be interested in new or modern things. We should not presume, but ask “What did you have in mind?”

My daughter’s friend was a trendy hairdresser each time she cut and blow dried my hair it was anything but trendy. She only saw me as her friend’s mother, and was surprised when I told her I wanted a trendy hairstyle.

Older people have been through all the different experiences, often the very same that those younger than them have. In some cases a lot more. Through those experiences, they have a lot of lessons to share. Tap into the wisdom they have gathered over the years.

An elderly gentleman said “the saddest thing about getting old is the fact that you become invisible. When you are young, people comment that you are pretty, happy, ugly, fat or thin, but when you are old they don’t seem to see you at all.”

One day you too will be one of the elderly, so treat them now as you would want to be treated yourself.

Sincere words of love and respect mean a lot to older people. Many have lost their partners and often a handshake or a gentle touch can communicate more than words.

A friendly smile and attitude can change the disposition of an unhappy or grumpy person, making them feel that someone cares about them.

Each time I see an elderly person I think of my parents and I treat them as if they are.

That is the way I would like someone to treat me.

– Nancy

One thought on “Communicating with the Elderly

  1. A wonderful read Nancy. Some important points to remember when communicating with people older than we are. Thank you


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