Nursing Home Patients With Dementia Resist Care When Nurses Use Infantile "Elderspeak"

A recent study suggests that "elderspeak" (which is defined as infantilizing communication used by nursing staff) may trigger resistance to medical care in adults with dementia.

Resistiveness to care is common in older adults with dementia. Resistiveness to care disrupts nursing care, increasing costs of care by 30%. Videotaped care episodes of nursing home residents with dementia were coded for type of staff communication (normal talk and elderspeak) and subsequent resident behavior (cooperative or resistive to care). Statistical analysis tested relationships between staff communication and subsequent resident resistiveness to care. The probability of resistiveness to care varied significantly with communication. An increased probability of resistiveness to care occurred with elderspeak, compared with normal talk.

Communication training has been shown to reduce elderspeak and may reduce resistiveness to care in future research. For more, see the study.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia. 


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