How We Speak to Seniors

I’d love to know how many seniors are truly hard of hearing. I’ll bet the percentage is higher than the general population, but not that high. I ask this question because I’ve discovered that when people speak to seniors — in clinics, at hospitals, in stores, at the library, but especially in medical settings — they often do so in very loud voices with a tinge of preschool teacher intonation.

Recently my dad was in the hospital — an excellent hospital where the care was great. Yet I noticed that most people, including the nurses and doctors, entered the room and raised their voices up a few decibels, using the voice that might be used with a very young child.

My dad is not hard of hearing and is used to being respected and spoken to directly. In his professional life he was in command of his decisions, for instance when he has supervised a large room of college students in a class or delivered sermons at his church. He feels trivialized and belittled when people address him the way people spoke to in the hospital (and in many cases he perceived it as shouting).

So I adopted this strategy in the hospital. When one of the caregivers entered the room speaking in a loud or high-pitched voice, I asked to speak with them. Essentially I said in a very nice way, please check the medical record because there is nothing wrong with my dad’s hearing. I did this politely because the people caring for Dad were wonderful, but I thought they needed to know.

One thought on “How We Speak to Seniors

  1. Pingback: As Our Parents Age First Anniversary! « As Our Parents Age

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