Subjective Health: The Roles of Communication, Language, Aging, Stereotypes, and Culture

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Young Harris College, USA

2 University of California, USA

Abstract

A consensually-agreed position among scholars of communication and aging is that while psychological and physical health mutually impact each other, the quality of language to and from older adult individuals shape each of these—and are shaped by them. Encounters with others inside and outside of one’s age ingroup involve stereotyped expectations with regard to language and other speech behaviors, resulting in reinforcement of age-based stereotypes and changes in social interaction, personal control, and self-esteem. These outcomes interfere with the quality of care an older adult receives from medical practitioners as older patients simply enjoy more communication satisfaction with supportive physicians than those who utilize negative age stereotypes and language. Many studies have been language-oriented as evident in attention to patronizing talk, painful self-disclosures, and stereotypes. We overview some of the major findings arising from the study of language and aging, with a view to articulating a more cohesive, integrative model that can coalesce previous theoretical and empirical efforts. 

Keywords