You Said What? Tips for Kinder Communication with Elderly
Honesty is always the best policy, right? Yet there are occasions when some truths are better left unsaid, or at the very least worded more positively, especially when communicating with elderly loved ones. Although we may have the finest of intentions in attempting to help older adults navigate life, we can assist in preventing hurt feelings in our loved ones by rethinking statements like the following:
- Don’t you remember…? Short-term loss of memory is common in older adults, and pointing it out so candidly can be belittling. Rather, try non-verbal tactics to help jog your loved one’s memory, such as strategically placing positive reminder notes at home, such as on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, TV remote, etc. If a spoken reminder would definitely be helpful, make sure to keep your tone light; and inquire if the senior would like anyone to assist, such as in making a medical appointment for her or getting a prescription.
- You’re not trying hard enough. The truth is, many older adults develop physical or cognitive impairments which make once-simple tasks extremely challenging. It’s similarly important to not take over tasks the individual may still do, but that may take a bit longer. Offering to serve as a partner in accomplishing an arduous task can also be effective, such as asking the senior to deal with some of task while you tackle another aspect of the job.
- I'm aware; you already told me. It can be frustrating to hear stories you have already heard more than once from an aging loved one; however, it’s important to be patient and provide the senior the respect you would want if the tables were turned.
- When you die, could I have...? Nobody wants to feel as though their possessions are of such value that family can’t wait to get their hands on them. It’s certainly smart to have a will set up that defines your loved one's wishes and allows him or her freedom to choose to whom his or her belongings ought to be given.
- Wake up! Forget about any feelings of embarrassment you may have regarding your senior loved one falling asleep in inappropriate times, like during a movie, a religious service, or a concert. Altered sleep patterns and medication side effects, among other factors, can make it difficult for some older adults to sleep well at night time.
To get more effective suggestions to help you better communicate with elderly loved ones, as well as provide the care and dignity they deserve, contact us today at (541) 857-9195. We provide service throughout Oregon’s Rogue Valley.