Respect for Older Patients
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I've been speaking for healthcare organizations since 1994. Before that, I served in vice president positions at two hospitals.


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Team Meeting Questions Regarding Older Patient Experience

In her memoir, Betty White described significant losses – the death of her husband and diminished hearing. Let’s take the easier loss first.

“People can even seem to get a little annoyed when you say “What?’ too many times. They’ll repeat themselves, but frequently without making it one jot clearer or louder.”

“I remember accusing my dad of selective hearing – hearing only what he wanted to hear. Shame on me. That was before I learned how isolated one can feel when she misses a key remark and loses track of the conversation but is loath to admit it.”

Betty White’s husband, Allen Ludden, died in 1981, five days before their 18th wedding anniversary.

“I think the toughest thing about loss, and the hardest challenge, is the isolation you feel in the aftermath.”

When she was working on the sitcom Hot in Cleveland, she noticed that “… my castmates
seemed so curious about him – and asked so many questions about him! – that I finally had to
wonder out loud: Why do you always ask me about Allen?”

The answer was simple:

“We love the look you get on your face when you talk about him.”

If you want to share this at a team meeting, you might like these discussion questions:

1) What’s your best tip for communicating with patients who don’t hear well?
2) If you have lost a loved older relative, can you tell us about that person in a few sentences?
3) Writing about both the death of her husband and her hearing difficulties, Betty White mentioned isolation. How can we help older patients feel less isolated?

Your kindness makes a difference every day,


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