Fostering Personhood Through Communication with Older Adults

 All too often communication problems of older adults are presumed to be solely due to age-related losses.  The Communication Predicament of Aging model highlights how negative stereotypes create communication predicaments for older adults, and other related models portray how health professionals and older adults themselves can minimize the social construction of excess disability among older adults.  In particular, health professionals can seek to treat older clients as individuals and support their skills in selective assertiveness. Writing is a special kind of selective assertiveness which can empower older adults, especially those with hearing, speaking and cognitive impairments.

Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Older Adults through Empowering Communication

We can choose to age with vitality, even if we have several chronic illnesses and have experienced serious losses.  Four ingredients for Aging with Vitality are: taking care of our health, exercising mind and body regularly, being engaged with life, and cultivating a positive spirit. All too often health professionals fall into the trap of undermining motivation and commitment for these activities by perpetuating ageist stereotypes.  The Communication Predicament of Aging model highlights how negative stereotypes lead to patronizing communication toward older adults who then find it difficult to exhibit competence or pursue their goals for health.  Through communication, health professionals can minimize this social construction of excess disability and empower older patients to take increased control for their health and well-being.

Facilitating Older Adult Assertiveness as Health Promotion

Empowering older adults with communication skills can assist them in taking control of their health and lives. The impact of selective assertiveness in later life will be demonstrated through a series of person perception studies, illustrative clinical programs, and analysis of older adult writings. As depicted by the Communication Enhancement Model, health and social service providers can contribute by supporting appropriate assertiveness and providing age-friendly environments.

Related Topic:

Older Adult Assertiveness in Response to Patronizing Speech: Does It Work?