I've read one or two reports which mention that guidelines are to be put in place next year about how nurses address the elderly. Apparently terms such as "love" and "dear" will be out, and the preferred mode of address will be Mrs --- or Mr ---.
Well, fair enough - to an extent. But my own experience suggests to me that it's less about the words or the terms of address, and more about the attitude of the person using them. For instance during a mercifully brief stay in hospital I was always referred to as Mr --- (obviously they used my surname rather than just dashes), but it was often said in a tone of voice which seemed to communicate something like I may be calling you Mr --- but I'm talking to you like you're a small child. And it grated.
On the other hand, I remember my paternal grandmother (ie not the one who's just turned 93) being in hospital just under 20 years ago - frail, tiny, disorientated, needing much care - and I remember one of the nurses taking her by the arm to lead her down the corridor. As they walked the nurse referred to her as "sweetheart." My grandmother at the time was maybe 88 or 89.
Now if you weren't there, this might sound exactly like the patronising, infantilising (is that spelt correctly? Is it a word?), insulting kind of thing that the guidelines are trying to do away with. But I clearly remember it being said with such clear tenderness and respect, that it stayed in my mind and seemed to help keep a sense of life and spirit about my grandma.
Well I can only speak from my own experience: but like I say, the attitude of the nurses in question, over and above the terms of address they might have used, seems to have been the crucial factor.