Voicing ageism in nursing home dementia care

Kristine Williams, Clarissa Shaw, Alexandria Lee, Sohyun Kim, Emma Dinneen, Margaret Turk, Ying Ling Jao, Wen Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Elderspeak (i.e., infantilizing communication) is a common form of ageism that has been linked to resistiveness to care in nursing home residents with dementia. Nursing home staff use elderspeak by modifying speech with older residents based on negative stereotypes, which results in patronizing communication that provides a message of incompetence. The purpose of the current secondary analysis was to describe communication practices used by nursing home staff that reflect ageism. Transcripts of 80 video recordings of staff-resident communication collected during nursing home care activities were re-analyzed to identify specific elderspeak patterns, including diminutives, collective pronouns, tag questions, and reflectives. Elderspeak was used in 84% of transcripts, and specifically during bathing, dressing, oral care, and other activities. Collective pronoun substitution occurred most frequently-in 69% of recorded conversations. Subgroup analysis of the inappropriate terms of endearment found that "honey"/"hon" and "sweetheart"/"sweetie" were most commonly used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of gerontological nursing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Gerontology


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