Barriers to effective and harmonious communication between caregivers and those affected with dementia are common and inevitable. An example of a common barrier is aphasia, which is a prevalent communication deficit associated with dementia. The social environment may further hinder harmonious communication through the use of well-intended, but ineffective speech patterns. Elderspeak (ES), which is infantilizing speech directed at older adults, is one such speech pattern that is commonly used in long-term care facilities (LTC) and is related to negative outcomes for older adults receiving it. Older adults with mild to moderate cognitive impairment who were residents at a LTC facility were exposed to two videos depicting a typical interaction between a nursing staff at a LTC facility and a resident. Prior to using the videos with older adults, they were validated for accuracy by nursing staff at a LTC facility. The videos depicted a “neutral” interaction (N-ES) and one that used elderspeak. Self-reports of mood were collected for older adults before and after each video. Behavioral observation of affect was collected while the older adults watched the videos. Qualitative interviews investigating preferences and opinions were administered after each video. Contrary to existing literature, results indicated that the participants in this study had similar emotional and behavioral responses to both videos. Further research is necessary in order to more fully determine what contextual variables affect how individuals with dementia respond to elderspeak.


Jeffrey Buchanan

Committee Member

Kristen Anderson

Committee Member

Daniel Houlihan

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright