Don’t Speak Down To The Aged, They’ll Die

A study released today by Yale University, says that speaking down to old people can reduce their life expectancy by up to eight years:

The study warns of what they call ‘elderspeak’, which is defined as patronizing language used by the young. They specify words such as ‘sweetie’ and ‘dear’, which paint the elderly the same as small children. It is also said that speaking loudly and slowly is unnecessary.

Researcher say that this treatment toward the elderly can be distressing and affect their health.

If you know you’re losing your cognitive abilities and trying to maintain your dignity, and someone talks to you like a baby, it’s upsetting to you.’

I’m not sure I buy that line of reasoning, and to prove my point, I’ll tell you a little story about what happened today when I tried to tell this story to Martha, an elderly patient at the Mitchievillian Home For The Old And Broken…

Martha is a sweet old thing, she came to Canada from some foreign country about 80 years ago. Although she’s 92, she has a bounce in her step (when she’s walking with a walker) of an 87 year old. Anyway, I digress–I was feeding Martha some pudding, delicious chocolate pudding, and I decided to tell her about this article. I started off by explaining that the research was conducted at Yale University, and then I told her about the term *elderspeak*. Well, for one reason or another she didn’t seem to hear that part and she asked me to repeat myself. So I picked up the bullhorn that I carry for just these occasions (the elderly have terrible hearing) and I screamed as loud as I could, “ELDERSPEAK-IT’S CALLED ELDERSPEAK.” Martha was anything but annoyed, she perked right up, practically jolted herself right out of the seat.

To me, that tells me Martha was interested and intrigued by what I was saying, so I continued screaming into the bullhorn at her–but very, very slowly–it seems when a person reaches a certain age they have trouble *keeping up with the tour*, if you will. I screamed as loudly, but slowly, as I could, “MARTHA….SWEETIE…THE…STUDY…SAYS…”, at that point, Martha grabbed her chest and started heaving. I could see the positive affect I was having on her. By speaking slowly and very loudly, all the while peppering her with the words *dear* and *sweetie*, she was overcome with emotion and displayed her gratitude towards me by putting her hand over her heart, as a way of telling me that she loved me and appreciated my speaking to her like the slow-witted nitwit that she had become.

In a strange turn of events though, Martha died minutes after I left the home. Completely unrelated, no doubt.

I’ll have to make sure to get my secretary to send her family a card…and this time my secretary better not forget to sign my name to it. Man, I’m not going through that embarrassment again.

I’m going to miss Martha, somewhat…

One Response to “Don’t Speak Down To The Aged, They’ll Die”

  1. dinosaur Says:

    It is also said that speaking loudly and slowly is unnecessary.

    Obviously from someone who read a book and has never been around old people what. what. what! WHAT!!!!!!!

    I’m done with this thread sonny.

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