Art & Poetry in Medicine
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Anna Stecher, MD (2020)
acrylic paint on canvas

Older people aren’t sweet, precious or cute.
They’re wisest among us, without dispute.
A habit of ours is to condescend
When talking to people nearer their end.

Complex and vibrant, diverse and seasoned,
Some talk down to them without good reason.
They deserve our respect, not gleeful coos.
‘Elderspeak’ is the ageist language used.

Loud, high-pitched voices shout ‘sweetie’ or ‘dear,’
Some talk slow and simple, but it’s insincere.
Hearing may dwindle and eyesight may fail,
But keep in mind, they’ve not always been frail.

Their lives are not done, still with ambition,
They are competent, they have volition.
Our culture, it seems, is aging-averse,
But to age is a gift, it’s not a curse.

Anna Stecher, MD Anna Stecher, MD (3 Posts)

Peer Reviewer Emeritus

University of Wisconsin

Anna is a fellow in Hospice and Palliative Medicine in Madison, WI. She spends a significant amount of time cuddling her three geriatric rat terriers while reading books or watching the next big TV drama.