Communication Predicaments of Aging Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Within a communication accommodation framework, this article reviews the emerging literature on patronizing communication directed to older adults in both institutional and community settings. The verbal and nonverbal features of patronizing messages (modifications of communication based on age-based stereotypes of incompetence and dependence) are outlined, with an emphasis on the multiple, often ambiguous meanings of such messages. The authors organize the discussion of the functions and consequences of patronizing communication around the dual purposes of intergenerational communication (respect and caring) and emphasize how a focus on caring for frail elders can lead to over parenting and dependency-supportive behaviors. Both field studies of staff talk addressed to older care receivers and evaluative studies with conversational scenarios have permitted analyses of the influences of provider behavior, recipient characteristics, context, and recipient response on the meaning of patronizing messages.

publication date

  • March 1995