Culturally Appropriate Geriatric Care: Assessment

Formality of Address

The concept of respect is an important one for most traditional Hindus. Old age is often synonymous with wisdom, and the concepts of filial piety and ancestral worship are still very central to the practice of this ancient religion. Hindu older adults often expect respectful and deferential treatment as their due. The term ji (for both men and women) or da (meaning big brother for men) is added to the end of a person’s name or title to indicate respect (e.g., Anita-ji or Basu-da).

In turn, older Hindu adults often treat the physician with respect and deference and try their best (within their principles) to adhere to the physician’s recommendations. Providers should address patients with warmth and respect and use a formal mode of address until given permission to use their first names, if ever. Younger and acculturated Hindus may be more willing to practice modern informality, but this should be determined by patient choice.