Effective and open communication is important in any relationship at every age. It can become especially important though as your loved ones grow older.
Changes in mental and physical health, hearing loss, and role reversals as children begin to actively ‘parent’ their parents can all lead to challenges in communication.
Blue Water Homecare and Hospice provides experienced and personalized home care and hospice care services to seniors, and their families, as they face the monumental transitions in life that come with aging.
Here are five tips that our team of experienced caregivers offers to support loving, respectful and healthy communication between your family, or friends, when you reach this stage:
Listen up and speak clearly.
Listening without interrupting and devoting your full attention to someone’s thoughts and concerns is probably the most important key to effective communication.
For those close to you who are older, it is also crucial that you speak at a high enough volume for them to hear you well. As hearing and cognitive skills often diminish later in life, making a conscious and consistent effort to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will prove helpful in any conversation. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may have lost some of their peripheral vision or may experience visual changes. Approaching the person slowly from the side or front is best and can allow them to read lips.
Speak in a respectful tone.
If you have to raise your voice frequently to be heard better, try to avoid sounding too bossy or condescending, which can be a natural tendency when speaking louder. Also remember that your loved one is not a child, despite any child-like behaviors they may revert to if living with certain conditions like dementia, so speaking to them like a fellow adult is always best.
Limit background noises and distractions.
When looking to start an important conversation with someone who may have fragile hearing or comprehension, it’s ideal to limit as many background noises and distractions in your environment as possible. Make sure the television or devices are turned off (or at least the volume turned down) if addressing things like health or safety when you need their full and undivided attention. Additionally, try to find somewhere to talk with them away from noisy appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine.
Switch spots with them.
Or, put yourself in their shoes. As you grow older, there can be the perception that you lose more and more control and freedoms over your own life. As you are having sometimes difficult conversations with your family member, think about how you would feel under the same circumstances and how you would want to be treated.
Proceeding with kindness, dignity and respect is appreciated in communications at any age.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, as it can usually lighten any mood or situation. So be sure to share a little humor and joy with your loved one every time that you speak or spend time together.
Some of Blue Water Homecare’s personalized services that can be tailored to suit you and your loved one’s needs include general At Home Care, Dementia Care, and a Parkinson’s Program unique to the special challenges associated with this neurodegenerative disorder. Blue Water Hospice Care is also available to help when medical care has come to an end and respite at home seems like the best option.