College of Health

School of Social Work

The Language of Care: How Elderspeak Can Undermine Quality of Care

MSW Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholars Workshop

Date & Time:

Friday, April 17, 2015
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM



FREE, but registration requested for planning purposes.


University of St. Thomas, Summit Classroom Building, Room 324

Workshop Details:

The MSW Area of Emphasis in Aging (AEA) Scholars will host a workshop on Elderspeak, presented by Patty Crawford (see bio below). Elderspeak, sometimes referred to as secondary baby talk, is a modified speech pattern marked by increased volume, simplified syntax, diminutives, collective pronouns, and terms of endearment.  Research has found that elderspeak can lead to a diminished sense of self, yet it is a significant part of the speech environment for elders in institutions that are designed to provide care.  For leadership in the growing field of elder services the use of elderspeak can undermine an organization’s goals in person-centered practice. Elderspeak reinforces ageist stereotypes, creating a social divide, and breaking down communication between generations.

Participants of this workshop will: 

  • Identify elderspeak, how it sounds and what it means.
  • Learn the negative effects of elderspeak.
  • Explore solutions and interventions to eliminate ageist language.

 Presenter Bio:

Patty Crawford has worked in senior services for 39+ years.  Her experiences started in a nursing home in rural Minnesota.  In the span of her career, she has seen the development of assisted living, senior housing and community based services.  She is presently the center manager of Augustana Open Circle Adult Day Center in Apple Valley. Her undergraduate degree is from Augsburg College where she is presently completing her final project for her Masters in Leadership.  The focus of her project is on elderspeak and its negative effect on identity. 


All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.