9/12/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

A 75-year-old is angry by the ageism and elderspeak she had to endure at a recent dental appointment. Should she inform the healthcare professionals or let the matter drop? See what Amy Dickinson of “Ask Amy” advises.

Dear Amy:

I am soon to be 75. I am physically and mentally healthy.

This week I spent a grueling 90 minutes with my dental hygienist.

It was grueling because she spoke to me using patronizing and condescending tone and language. I interpret this as ageism and elderspeak.

I felt demeaned, belittled, and angry.

She has been my hygienist for years and she is excellent. She may not even realize what she is doing. I wanted to say something, but part of me says that this is small potatoes on the plate of life. But I dread seeing her again.

As an RN, I am also a healthcare professional. How we speak to those in our care is important. We need to communicate in a respectful manner.

Your advice?

No Plaque

Dear No Plaque:

older woman and hygienist at a dental office. Photo by Oleg Baliuk, Dreamstime. A 75-year-old is angry by the ageism and elderspeak at a dental cleaning. Should she inform the healthcare office? See what “Ask Amy” advises.

It is nearly impossible to respond verbally when you’re having your teeth cleaned. And I agree about small potatoes on the plate of life.

However, you have already expressed feeling dread about your next appointment.

This is having an impact on your healthcare.

You should contact the office manager, and/or owner of the practice. Give your hygienist all the praise she deserves, and then accurately state your experience at your most recent appointment.

The dental practice should re-train all staff about how to communicate effectively with all patients, including avoiding ageism and elderspeak.

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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from ageism and elderspeak to grandparenting to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. 

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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