We always want to be respectful of elders and sometimes communicating with them can be difficult. It can be physical problems, they’re hard of hearing or maybe they can’t speak. Or maybe you don’t know how to start a conversation, or what to even talk about. One problem that’s affecting our communication with the elderly is ElderSpeak. Do you use ElderSpeak?

Do You Use ElderSpeak?

Do You Use ElderSpeak?


What is ElderSpeak? ElderSpeak has been called the baby talk for adults, it’s language that gives off a condescending attitude. It makes it seem like the speaker has more control than the person spoken to.

Health experts have even noticed a decline in performance of tasks and an increase in depression in people that are exposed to ElderSpeak for a long period of time. People tend to raise their voices, slow their speech, and give pet names to the elderly people they are talking to. It can happen to anyone, volunteer, family member, even a nurse might accidentally talk down using these words and phrases.

  •  Speaking slowly


  •  Speaking loudly


  • Using a sing-song voice


  • Inflecting statements to sound like a question


  • Using the pronouns “we,” “us,” and “our” in place of “you.”: “How are we doing today?”


  • Using pet names such as “sweetheart,” “dearie,” or “honey”


  • Shortening sentences


  • Simplifying syntax (sentence structure)


  • Simplifying vocabulary


  • Repeating statements or questions


  • Answering questions for the older adult: “You would like your lunch now, wouldn’t you?”


  • In other ways talking for the older adult: “You are having a good time on the patio today, I see. And you have your pink sweater on, which you love. Right?”


  • Asking people questions that assume role loss, idleness and powerlessness such as “Who did you used to be?” “What did you used to do?”

Learn more about ElderSpeak here.