Overaccommodation in a Singapore Eldercare Facility
Seilhamer, Mark Fifer
Chee, Yi Tian Felicia
Ng, Bee Chin
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Numerous studies have shown that some speech accommodation in interactions with the elderly can aid communication. Overaccommodaters, however, employing features such as high pitch, exaggerated prosody, and child-like forms of address, often demean, infantilise, and patronise elderly interlocutors rather than facilitate comprehension. According to the Communicative Predicament of Aging model, communication practices are determined by stereotypes of aging that are triggered in the minds of those interacting with the elderly. These stereotypes vary from culture to culture, and in Singapore, negative stereotypes of aging are prevalent, existing alongside traditional Confucian-influenced positive stereotypes. To date, no studies have examined whether or how stereotypes of aging might be manifested in interactions between younger and older Singaporeans. This investigation involved participant observation in a Singapore eldercare facility. Overaccommodation was indeed found to be employed by carers and varied qualitatively depending on the physical and cognitive abilities of the elderly, with healthy elderly addressed as one might address school-aged children and those with dementia addressed as infants. These results provide some initial insights into an issue that is extremely relevant to Singaporean society, given the city state's rapidly aging population.
Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
© 2016 Taylor & Francis. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Taylor & Francis. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2016.1142553].