Six Tips For Communicating With Elderly Loved Ones

For many of us, caring for and communicating with an elderly loved one can be quite the challenge. Though aging is something we may have been expecting for a while, it can be a very uneasy process to watch our loved ones decline in cognitive and communication abilities.
While cognitive challenges present their own unique obstacles, communication can be even more frustrating as your loved one loses the ability to express themselves and relay even their most basic needs and desires.  You may notice that you are repeating yourself to the point of exhaustion or even acting as the main “decipherer” for your family and friends. Communication troubles can take away from the positive interactions that should be a staple of daily living.
By changing the way we communicate with our loved ones we can attempt to avoid communication conflicts and keep stress levels in the care environment to a minimum. Some techniques to try are:

  1. Remember to be patient with your loved one, as many seniors may become frustrated and stop trying or simply stop cooperating if they feel that they are being rushed or forced.
  2. Try to keep conversations simple. Summaries and shorter words are a great way to help your loved one stay in the mix without making them feel like they are being treated differently, or that they are a burden on others.
  3. Try to not finish your loved ones sentences. Though it may be helpful to the conversation, it can be seen as demeaning and may make them feel that they are not important or independent.
  4. Involve your loved one in the decision making process by giving them choices in their daily activities and routines. This tactic allows them to feel that they are more in control of their lives and that their decisions matter (which they do).
  5. Speak slowly, clearly and at a reasonably loud volume (just not too loud).  As hearing is one of the most common things that declines among the elderly it’s important to ensure that your quality of speech is a good as possible.
  6. If possible ensure that your loved one can see your face while communicating. Seniors often rely on lip reading and other nonverbal communication to make up for hearing loss.

Hopefully, these techniques can guide you and your loved one to better communication and decrease stress on both sides of the conversation. If you find yourself in need of more support, we would encourage you to contact The Elizabeth Hospice at any time.  We are more than willing to assist you and your loved one with any of the challenges that you may be facing in your caregiving journey.

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