What sets my teeth on edge...

  1. Why is it that when a normal, adult, professional nurse starts working with an elderly patient, they immediately start talking in that annoying high-pitched, lilting voice that most people reserve for talking with young kids?? Usually it's the women, but there are some guys that do it too. Not only does it set my teeth on edge, but if I'm ever in the hospital and a nurse talks to me that way I'm going to throw an insulted fit!

    I can't believe that any 80-year-old likes to be talked to that way. I've never worked anywhere but Minnesota, but in four hospitals here ... is it just a Minnesota thing, like "you bet"? I never hear doctors, female or male, talking this way -- are we taught this as nurses?

    Either way, it's driving me crazy! So for the sake of my sanity and that of all my elderly patients (enough of them are crazy already!), please stop!

    I'll get off my soapbox now.
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  2. 32 Comments

  3. by   suzannasue
    Matt,
    Thank you, ad infinitum...........this practice is demeaning,in my opinion. Many members of our older citizenry,when we see them,have lost many things...bladder control,bowel control,cardiac funtion,vital lung capacity,control over their money and health care decisions...the one thing they DO possess is their integrity as human beings. Given the choice, I am sure many of them have wanted to have insulted fits,but have chosen to refrain.
    If,when I get to be their age,have one ounce of strength left in my body, "something" is gonna be thrown at them.
    Perhaps "the tone" is used as an attempt to be "endearing"...
    Thank you for your post.
  4. by   hoolahan
    Matt! Great picture! I wish I was as brave! You sushi whore you! LOL!

    Anyway, I have found, that I do have to talk slower to the older folks. I think if you ever had to have an older person, over 80, return a demo to you of something you just taught them, you would be surprised at how many, of course not all, older folks just nod their heads and act like they are following you, but it isn't until you ask them to return the demo, or repeat instructions back to you that you find out they are as deaf as a doorknob and won't admit it. Now why to use a litling voice, not sure, but it may be because higher tones are heard better than bass tones which blend into the background easier. Even though I talk slowly and ennunciate more, I do hope I do not sound like I am speaking to a child, I still speak to people respectfullly, I say the same thing I would say to you, only slower.

    We used to hhave a female doc, eye surgeon, who would come out and explain to the old folks, in a really annoying whiny slow voice all about their eye surgery, and I used to think she was cracked until I did homecare. You may not always do as much teaching in the hospital, you do not have the same kind of one-on-one time that we do in homecare. Sometimes I am doing my fast "housekeeping" talk about the agency P&P baloney that I must do at a start of a new visit. I have to catch myself and slow down a lot with the older folks. Older people learn slower and process information more slowly than younger people too.

    So Matt, I haven't heard exactly what you are talking about, which may be worse than I am imagining, but that is why I slow down when I speak to the elderly. Once I have been speaking to them for awhile, and I see they can process at a faster rate, I will talk more normally. If you are ever my pt when you are old, just tell me, please don't punch me, and I will back down. OK?
  5. by   Q.
    Matt, I realize this is waaaaayyyyy off topic - but you are a sushi whore???

    My GOD! I found another male who LIKES sushi! I must be in heaven. :kiss
  6. by   live4today
    Matt, I can certainly identify with your story above. I have often overheard nursing staff and doctors talking "baby talk" to elderly patients. In nursing school, we were taught to address elderly patients with in a regular tone of voice just like we would a younger patient, and to call them by their last name (Mr. Jones, or Mrs. Jones or Ms. Jones) unless the patient approved of our calling them by their first names. Just because they are elderly doesn't mean they shouldn't still be given their due respect. If we live long enough, we will become one of them, so how would we want our nursing staff or others to address us? Good story, Matt. Thanks for sharing it with us.


    ___________________________________________

    Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm deaf, retarded, or unable to communicate intelligently to you nurses!" -- (okay, I made it up)
  7. by   Q.
    Again..another tangential comment of mine...but I remember learning in nursing school that during the aging process, hearing naturally decreases but that the tones that are heard better are those higher pitched. I could be off my rocker - but maybe that's why some people speak in high tones - only they are taking it to the extreme?
  8. by   P_RN
    As a result of over 35 years working with mainframe computer equipment my hubby is fairly hard of hearing. His loss is of the high tones....I thought that was pretty universal.....anyway I was told to speak in a lower tone to the elderly. It's usually worked well for me.

    And I HATE that patronizing sing song nannnnnnay whine too.
    (My 11 year old great-nephew thinks WE are elderly and is soooooooooo "patient with us old folks."
  9. by   Q.
    P-
    Maybe that's what it was - the higher tones are those that are lost. I KNEW it was something like that.
  10. by   bigjay
    Just to throw in my 0.02...

    I'm pretty sure it's the higher tones that go as well. Being male and having a deep voice I often find elderly patients can hear me better than some of my female colleagues. We have a standing joke that my voice is the "wake up" voice for unresponsive pts...

    I too find it very demeaning the way some of my colleagues speak to elderly pts, particularly the use of "dear" and "hon" in place of their actual names.
  11. by   Teshiee
    I agree it is demeaning. That old saying about being elderly once a man twice a child is probaly why some do that. Only 5% of the elderly end up in nursing homes. They are very functional people. I love taking care of them and listen to their stories back in the day is really neat. I think it is a true blessing to live and have all your faculties. I met a woman who was a 102 cute as a button and fiesty as she ever wanted to be. It was like a living time machine. I appreciate my seasoned people. :roll :kiss
  12. by   Jenny P
    I will admit that I have slipped and called a patient "dearie;" usually it is some cute little old lady that I have fallen in love with while caring for her (usually they remind me of someone I've known personally before). I APOLOGISE for that. I do NOT talk in a high pitched voice, however.
  13. by   Jenny P
    PS hey, Matt, I like the picture too! Where do you get your sushi? Have you found a good source? My hubby can make some really mean sushi--me; I go to Byerly's!
  14. by   Zhakrin
    Originally posted by Susy K
    Matt, I realize this is waaaaayyyyy off topic - but you are a sushi whore???

    My GOD! I found another male who LIKES sushi! I must be in heaven. :kiss

    Maybe Matt is not refering to Fish! LOL

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