Table 1 – Resources to Learn More About Culture and Aging

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Spector RE. Cultural Diversity in Health and Illness. 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004.
US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH)
Stanford Geriatric Education Center

Table 2 – Tips to Facilitate Communication With Older Patients

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• Recognize your own tendency to stereotype older adults
• Avoid patronizing speech (‘elderspeak’)
• Allow extra time for older patients
• Minimize visual and auditory distractions
• Sit face to face
• Maintain eye contact
• Ask open-ended questions
• Listen without interrupting
• Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly without shouting
• Use short, simple sentences without being patronizing
• Stick to one topic at a time
• Simplify and write down instructions
• Use visual aids such as pictures and diagrams to help clarify and reinforce comprehension of key points
• Frequently summarize the most important points
• Talk primarily with the patient rather than with the family/caregiver
• Give patients the opportunity to ask questions and express themselves
• Make signage, forms, and brochures easy to read (eg, large print)
• Check on patients (or make sure staff checks on them) if they have been waiting in the exam room
• Express understanding and compassion to help older patients manage fear and uncertainty related to the aging process and chronic diseases
• Ask about the patient’s living situation and social contacts
• Customize care by asking about the patient’s cultural beliefs and values pertaining to illness and death
• Engage in shared decision-making
• Verify listening comprehension during the conversation
• Incorporate both technical knowledge and emotional appeal when discussing treatment regimens
• Say good-bye to end the visit on a positive note

This article originally appeared on MPR