Nuns model skillful ways to speak to ill seniors

Everybody should read this, but especially those who work with seniors or will become seniors themselves. From the CBC: Nuns model skillful ways to speak to ill seniors.

The sisters caring for cognitively impaired elderly nuns in a Midwestern convent spoke to their care recipients in a way that sounded strikingly different to linguistic anthropologist Anna Corwin.

The nuns rarely used “elderspeak” — a loud, slow, simple, patronizing and common form of baby talk for seniors.

Instead, Corwin reports, they told jokes, stories and blessed the sick nuns, all the while speaking to them like they were completely capable, even though their ability to communicate was significantly diminished.

“It is beautiful watching these nuns,” Corwin, a professor at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, said in a phone interview. “They accept decline. They value a person in a sort of inherent way.” [continue]

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