Many elderly persons struggle with general communication skills like hearing, reading, and writing. We must do this in a way that’s different than how we’d talk to our peers because they’re harder to understand and are influenced by environmental changes too.
How to Talk to the Elderly
When engaging in senior communication there are a few things you should do:
- Maintain eye contact
- Speak clearly
- Be direct
- Don’t multitask – since they don’t live in a fast paced world they’re not accustomed to this and so they may feel as though we’re not interested or we don’t care
- Use simple words and short sentences
- Frequently re-state key points from your discussion – three times is the “magic number”: once in the beginning, once in the middle, then again at the end of the conversation
- Include visual aids when possible – many struggle with short-term memory loss so they won’t remember nearly as much as they did in the past
How to Listen to the Elderly
A vital part of senior communication is listening. Remember the importance of having a give-and-take relationship here. You can’t completely focus on your own thoughts and responses. You must pay attention to their message too. When you listen and ask questions you’ll improve the entire conversation – something that is especially important here.
Only when you’re sure you’ve heard the entire message can you form an appropriate response. This isn’t something you can do while the other person is still talking to you. Instead, you must listen intently, show respect to the person who’s talking, and be concerned about the person who’s talking to you. When in doubt, take some cues from people on TV who do a really great job of interviewing their guests. You’ll see they’ve also learned the importance of all these things.
How to Handle Disagreements with the Elderly
Senior communication doesn’t come without the occasional disagreement. However, you never want to engage in an argument or attempt to sway them to see things from your viewpoint. Most elderly adults have strong beliefs and you don’t want them to become overly excited about them. Doing so is a social faux paux that could cause more problems than it’s worth – health wise, mentally, and emotionally.
Sometimes this requires you to take extra time when engaging in senior communication. You’ll need this time to ask questions and express reactions. You’ll notice that there are times when the elderly struggle to convey these things to you. They may be struggling with a time lapse that grows larger as they age. While this may cause you to feel unnerved, it shouldn’t stop you from asking them questions. After all, it’s important to keep them engaged in your conversation so you’re able to understand them better, strengthen your relationship with them, and help them continue feeling self-confident.
How to Continually Improve Communication With the Elderly
Senior communication is a process throughout which you’ll also want to be sure that your loved one isn’t struggling to hear you. This is where Countryside Hearing Aid Services can help you make sure your message is effectively conveyed.
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