6 Tips to Effectively Communicate With Your Senior
Proper communication is essential to all relationships, but it’s particularly important when it comes to a caregiving situation or when dealing with a loved one. It’s not really what you say that matters, its how you say it that will determine if the person understands your message or not. Read on for 6 tips to communicate properly with your senior.
Get Their Attention
More often than not distractions, such as outside noise, can make paying attention to what you’re saying, difficult. This is especially true if your senior has a loss of hearing.
Turn off any distractions, address them by their name and make sure you have their full attention before speaking to them. If your senior is seated, take a seat and maintain eye contact with them before speaking to them or asking them a question. Consider taking them for a walk, allowing space and time to have a meaningful conversation.
State Your Message Clearly
The older we get the longer it may take to process, especially if they have an impairment such as dementia or memory loss. When speaking to an elderly loved one make your message clear. Don’t use big words, don’t mumble and enunciate your words. Try to be as brief as you can when asking a question.
If you are having a conversation with them or you are asking them a question, it’s okay to make suggestions and give options. Instead of using general statements, get more specific with your questions. For example, “would you like to take a walk today or would you rather stay in and watch a movie?”
If your senior is independent, they will appreciate you asking them what they want to do, instead of feeling like they are being treated like a child that cannot make up their own mind.
Often if you are speaking to your elderly loved one or asking them a question – they pause. It may take an extra moment for them to comprehend what you’re saying to them and in return, give you an answer or a reply. Whether you’re having a more serious conversation or asking them what they want for dinner; give them a chance to think about their answer and speak.
It may be difficult to stay patient, especially if you have a close relationship with your senior. It’s easy to forget that dynamics can change and conversations may not be as quick as they once were.
Have as much patience as you possibly can. But, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you need a break or you find yourself becoming short with them – take a moment and revisit the conversation later.
Ask Instead of Assume
Make sure that you ask your senior what they want, rather than making assumptions. Even if they’ve done the same thing for 20 years. People change, especially when they are aging. Give them options and a chance for input!
For more on this subject, read our blog “The Difference Between In-Home Care and Hospice Care.”
Seniors Helping Seniors is a unique care program that matches seniors to other seniors in need of assistance, to continue activities they enjoy and remain independent and safe in familiar surroundings.
If you’re looking for assistance for yourself, a loved one, or you are a senior interested in providing care, please contact us or call us at 800-481-2488 to learn more.