Communication in Institutional Elderly Care in Japan

Backhaus, Peter

German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo


This paper deals with linguistic interaction between residents and staff in a Japanese caring facility for elderly people. It is based on empirical research conducted in autumn 2007 in a nursing home north of Tokyo. Borrowing methodology from previous research (Grainger 1993, Sachweh 2000), the study concentrates on morning care activities. The study sample consists of around 120 recorded conversations. Actions performed during these conversations include waking the residents and getting them up, exchange of diapers, dressing, and toilet support.

The paper takes a closer look at the data with regard to two points: (1) the unequal power relations between residents and staff and how they are linguistically expressed and negotiated; and (2) the linguistic strategies adopted by the interactants to deal with embarrassing and potentially face-threatening situations as they inevitably occur in institutional elderly care.


Grainger, Karen (1993) The discourse of elderly care. Unpublished dissertation thesis, University of Wales.

Sachweh, Svenja (2000) "Schätzle hinsitze!" Kommunikation in der Altenpflege. Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang.

Session: Paper session
Age 2 / Identity
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 04