Trillium Woods health and wellness manager Cari Brastad, R.N. and staff are on a mission to rid the language of “elderspeak”—when younger people speak to seniors in a loud voice, assuming they can’t hear, using simplified grammar or words like “dear” or “sweetie.” “Seniors can feel that this way of speaking is childish, insensitive or demeaning,” says Brastad.
While in some cultures, she said, it’s common to call someone “auntie” or touch a senior as if they were family, if one is not accustomed to it, it can be seen as rude or offensive. Likewise talking slowly, speaking in a different pitch or tone, or altering one’s grammar instead of speaking normally—not good, she said.
“Here at Trillium, our staff are trained to never speak that way. We know who is hard of hearing.” In addition, she said, seniors can lose their complex language if they’re not exposed to it.
Trillium Woods is an independent living residence that’s part of a life plan community offering a continuum of care. “No matter how people’s needs change, there will always be a place for them at Trillium,” says Johanna Holub, spokeswoman for Trillium.
Trillium also provides the latest in technology, which is especially important to baby boomers, says Brastad. Computers are available for residents’ use, and volunteer high school students come in to help with technology issues, says Brastad.
Brastad came to Trillium after having worked her entire career with elders. “I love talking with our seniors, learning about them and their amazing lives,” she says.
With staff trained to communicate appropriately, cool technology and an array of amenities, Brastad says, “it’s not like anything I’ve seen in senior living.”