Young man, honey, dear – terms of endearment such as these could be appreciated when said by our significant other or when directed to our very young children, but how do senior citizens respond to them? In a word, many are downright offended. And even though health care professionals, restaurant personnel, stylists and many others may have the very best of intentions when linking these labels to seniors, the underlying message is one of vulnerability, frailty, and inferiority.
And just as annoying, or possibly even more so, is speaking over seniors to address their family members instead, as if the seniors are unable to communicate competently.
There is also a tendency – and again, it is usually well meaning – to try and take control of things for the elderly, without acknowledging they could be more than able to do things for themselves. Noticing an older man or woman maneuvering with a cane or walker, for instance, frequently leads to another person kindly offering support. But, according to Judy Jellison Graves, a cancer and polio survivor, “It’s annoying when people feel like I need help with something I have no problem doing myself.”
Termed “elderspeak” or “ageism ”, this particular behavior is even considered a form of bullying by Dr. Vicki Rosebrook, Executive Director of the Macklin Intergenerational Institute. “It’s talking down to them. We do it to children so well. And it’s natural for the sandwich generation, since they address children that way.”
Improving our view of elderly people is a nationwide need, beginning with the impressions we impart to the next generation. A recent study points to an incredibly negative reaction to aging by children from preschool through elementary school, who figured that becoming elderly would be “awful.”
What lesson can those of us who work with senior citizens learn from this? Exchange coddling and generalizations with straightforward, genuine respect. Atlanta Home Care Partners takes strides every day towards this particular end, by offering respectful senior care in Atlanta to further improve independence and quality of life, with a focus on always maintaining their dignity and individuality.
Our home care assistance Atlanta services always commence with the creation of a customized care plan, considering each person’s needs, desires and interests, and that plan is modified ongoing as needs change. Contact us at (404) 228 – 0103 if you’d like to learn how our respectful, dedicated senior caregivers can provide in-home care services for your loved one.