Communication is a major foundation for caregiving. Without it, the tasks and interactions with the person receiving care become harder to manage. Lack of good communication can lead to increased disagreements between caregiver and loved one. Below are some things to keep in mind when communicating with a senior loved one.
• Maintain eye and face contact with the person. So much information gets missed because people aren’t focusing on the speaker when he or she is talking.
• Don’t give advice unless asked. This is especially true if the loved one is a parent. Caregiving can create a role-reversal that can be very off-putting to a parent. Giving unwanted advice may exacerbate this.
• Listen to what the person is saying. Don’t interrupt or interject with your own thoughts until he or she is done speaking. Talking over him or her can be agitating and lead to arguments. However, remember that communication is a two-way street. Make sure he or she is giving you the same respect.
• Speak clearly. Older adults can have issues that prevent them from hearing as well as they used to. Some don’t want to admit it. Avoid speaking at a rapid pace and enunciate your words. Do this in a way that doesn’t come across as condescending.
Aging can bring with it issues that make communication harder. Despite this, it’s important to keep channels of dialogue as open as possible as good communication helps facilitate good caregiving.