It can be hard to talk to a senior loved on suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Our clients share with us and we see firsthand, the significant challenges associated with memory loss. We must remember that even if they due not have the ability to care for themselves, elderly people are not children.
However, many elderly people with dementia are often treated as if they were young children. Most of us will understand and recognize that many adults have a different way of speaking to young children than to other adults. Unfortunately, research shows us that there is a trend on the rise where elderly people with dementia are often talked to in a form of baby talk, that researchers have dubbed “elderspeak.” It is common for dementia patients to be called names, such as “sweetie” and “dear.”
While the speaker does not mean any harm, it can be harmful to the patients. This treatment can be harmful to their emotional well-being and sense of self, together with being harmful to the family relationship. Talking to dementia patients in that way comes across as patronizing and may increase their feelings of isolation. It can worsen their problems.
This is something caregivers and elder law advocates should be aware of. Obviously, there can be no legislative ban on elderspeak, but it is important to know that it can cause problems for the elderly, so we can mindfully refrain from using it. Does this article raise even more questions for you? We are here to answer them for you. Call us at (715) 843-5001 to schedule an appointment with Attorney Alan Hougum.