Elderspeak communication: impact on dementia care

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. Feb-Mar 2009;24(1):11-20. doi: 10.1177/1533317508318472. Epub 2008 Jun 30.


Resistiveness to care is common in older adults with dementia. Resistiveness to care disrupts nursing care, increasing costs of care by 30%. Elderspeak (infantilizing communication used by nursing staff) may trigger resistiveness to care in individuals with dementia. Videotaped care episodes (n = 80) of nursing home residents with dementia (n = 20) were coded for type of staff communication (normal talk and elderspeak) and subsequent resident behavior (cooperative or resistive to care). Bayesian statistical analysis tested relationships between staff communication and subsequent resident resistiveness to care. The probability of resistiveness to care varied significantly with communication (Bayes P = .0082). An increased probability of resistiveness to care occurred with elderspeak (.55, 95% CrI, .44-.66), compared with normal talk (.26, 95% CrI, .12-.44). Communication training has been shown to reduce elderspeak and may reduce resistiveness to care in future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Episode of Care
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Speech*
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology*
  • Videotape Recording