Hearing people address elderly strangers in overly familiar terms such as “dear” or “sweetie” has always bothered me. When I’m out with my grandmother and someone (generally an overzealous salesperson) goes the “dear” route with her, it always seems so patronizing and disrespectful. Whatever happened …

5 Comments to
“Young Lady, You Don’t Look a Day Over 65″: Elderspeak and Its Effects

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  1. I prefer to start conversations with “my friends”

  2. I am a care provider for the elderly in their homes. And although I do use these phrases quite often, I do so to all my freinds/co-workers, etc., I agree that they can be condensending if they are not part of your normal venacular, or everyday speak. There is a difference when you use these terms only for a specfic group of individuals or if it is just your normal verbiage. So I’d say, be yourself, but be respectful.

  3. I think most people using these terms have the best intentions. Most care deeply for the elderly.

    I have always tried to respect anyone older, as I was taught as a kid, using Mr. or Ms. most of the time.

    But now, as I am getting older (55) I don’t think I would mind a woman calling be sweetie every once in a whil.

  4. I am a 58 year old and work in a Aged Care facility in Australia. I never use the term sweetie, darling or love. As I do not like it myself and will tell staff in our facility that it very disrespectfull. As we all strive to make life as pleasant for our Elders and respect their dignity, it is up to all of us to to respect that. We have the Eden Alternative way of living in place, we have sharing circles and will have next time a conversation with our Elders what they think. And I am sure the majority will say they do not like it. As for my self, if I ever hear some one say sweetie or other degrading namesI will make them aware that it is just not on… in these times …

  5. I work in mental health and I called an elderly lady “sweetie” once. She stared at me, and then said: “No-one has called me sweetie in years, you just made my day” and she smiled the rest of the day.
    I feel good when someone uses kind loving words to me. We need a world where kindness is the norm and people don’t bicker over this.

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