Holly Whiteside adds to the conversation about language with this point:
I recently gave a keynote address to a local caregivers’ expo. During the Q&A, one woman raised her hand and said, “What do You think about the way people talk down to old people?” I told her that it dumbfounds me, that I have no idea where people learn to think that’s the way to speak. And then I continued to wonder…
Why Do so many people talk baby talk to elders? Could an elder supreme court judge possibly enjoy being patted on the head? And for that matter, how do they get away with it? What keeps elder parents, pianists or Marines from kicking a few shins?
I remember when I would bring my still sharp Phi Beta Kappa mother out and about in her wheelchair, and doctors and other professionals would address me, speaking about my mother in the third person. Did they assume that her brain and self-respect had been gradually leaking away since she turned 70?