Preparatory Considerations

Demonstrating Respect

Use Miss, Mrs., or Mr. when addressing an elderly Filipino American. Avoid addressing the elder by first name during the first encounter since this familiarity might be perceived as a sign of disrespect.


A firm handshake with a smile and eye contact is appropriate. If the older patient is accompanied by other family members, greet the older patient first. The social greeting “How are you?” translates into Tagalog as “Kumusta po kayo“. The word po, which conveys respect, is automatically added at the end of every sentence or phrase when communicating with an older or elderly person.

Informal Conversation

Having a conversation about grandchildren or other non-medical life events or interests (hobbies) puts the Filipino elder at ease. A clinician who shares briefly a personal anecdote, particularly about children in her/his family, is recognized more as human being to whom the older adult can relate rather than as an authority figure.