As you care for your senior loved one, your level of interaction may increase significantly. Ensuring that communication is kept positive is an important part of promoting a pleasant senior living situation. Following a few simple guidelines can help make this a reality in your conversations with your senior loved one.
- Giving advice only when it is sought: If you are caring for your parent, remember that a key part of living life to its fullest is maintaining independence. Even if you are a full-time Family Caregiver, fight against the urge to offer advice. For an aging adult, hearing advice from a child can be difficult. Instead, offer encouragement and support and offer advice only if your loved one asks you for it.
- Take a break and listen: Listen to what your senior loved one is saying. Even if they pause or seem to struggle to find the right word, be patient and allow them to complete a thought. Finishing their sentences for them may discourage them from sharing their thoughts or opinions in the future.
- Be patient when it is your turn to talk…: Take time to turn and look at your loved one when you are talking. One difficult aspect for aging adults can be the feeling that everyone is talking around them without involving them in conversation. Stay calm when you talk with your senior loved one and keep sentences short. …without being condescending: While you want to take time to involve your loved one in conversation, be sure that an over-dramatic enunciation and slowed speed of talking doesn’t appear condescending. Even if your loved one has dementia or has hearing loss, they will feel demeaned if you speak to them as if to a child.
- Watch for distractions: When you are talking with your loved one, make sure that other sound sources are turned off. Radio or television can create so much background noise that your loved one may struggle to hear what you are saying.
- Employ empathy: Your goal is to help your loved one enjoy their life to the fullest, but your concern may still feel like a loss of control to your loved one. They may be focused on the loss of their independence and the aches and pains of aging. It may help to communicate that your role is to help and support, not control them.
- Prioritize What’s Important: You may feel overwhelmed by decisions and opinions your have about health care, the appropriate living environment and mobility limitations. Tackling all of this in a short period of time may make positive communication challenging. Address the most critical issues first and then navigate the others as you determine what level of change is reasonable.
When communication with your senior loved one hits bumps along the way, call Freudenthal Home Health to help you navigate this journey. We have the experience and expertise to help you maintain a positive relationship with your senior loved one.