Title of Chapter or Poem
The Nature and Effects of Patronizing Speech on Older Adults
In this chapter, we review the speech patterns that tend to be directed selectively to older adults. This style of speech is frequently patronizing in quality and reflects a pattern that is often directed to individuals who are stigmatized as being incompetent. Specifically, communication patterns directed to older adults overlap those directed to individuals from certain other stigmatized groups (e.g., individuals with disabilities).
Next, we review the typical consequences experienced by older adults when they are recipients of patronizing speech styles from others. This includes older adults’ subjective responses to ageist speech from others and also includes (1) their stress-relevant physiological responses and (2) the impact on their subsequent performance on a stress-inducing task.
Finally, we describe some of the remedial efforts that have been tried in an effort to reduce use of patronizing speech among those who have contact with older adults. We give particular attention to efforts to reduce ageist speech styles to older adults by professionals who have regular contact with them. We also consider new methods that could be employed to reduce ageist speech styles in the general public, for example, classes on aging that include both older and younger students.
Although we review the general literature on this topic, we give greatest attention to experimental work on the effects and predictors of patronizing speech directed to older adults. This allows us to more safely draw causal inferences about the nature of patronizing speech, the motives behind the use of patronizing speech, settings in which patronizing speech occurs, as well as the consequences of being a recipient of patronizing speech.
Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons
Todd D. Nelson
Place of Publication
Ageism, Patronizing speech, Older adults