Communication is everything when it comes to our loved ones. It’s how we share information with each other and how we convey what’s important to us. We all want to have better contact with those special to each of us in our own lives.
When it comes to older adults, communication may sometimes seem difficult based on our perspective. However, remember that emotions and familial responsibilities can sometimes come into play with these conversations, which may add stress to the dialogue. Instead, open and empathetic dialogue with older adults in retirement homes or independent senior living is the key to better communication. Here are four tips that can help enhance this conversation on both sides.
1. Speak Clearly and Listen Well
You may have had a talk with your older relative recently where you thought that your points were not being heard. Or perhaps your senior loved one was conveying his or her statement to you, and you didn’t believe it to be an important topic of conversation.
Open communication means that both sides are conveying information honestly and respectfully. It also entails that each side of the conversation listens to each other and points are being addressed. Make sure that you’re speaking and enunciating clearly to the older adult, so that they can hear what you’re saying, especially if it’s a topic of importance.
If they are speaking to you, you need to be attentive and respectful. Don’t interrupt a senior while they’re talking about something important to them. They may take offense to this, which will hurt the conversation. Also, seniors may use pauses in dialogue to think about what you have just said. Try not to overload the conversation with too many points at one time.
2. Only Give Advice When Asked
An older adult has been through much in their lifetime. In living through many decades, they’ve battled numerous adversities and overcome many obstacles. Many seniors have also raised and guided children through their lives and know what it’s like to advise certain behaviors.
Realizing that, you can probably imagine how they feel when a person tells them how they should do something, or correct a specific area of their life. Children and older adults are quite different in terms of places where one needs to “help.” While children are growing up and learning about the world, seniors know that they are at a later stage in their lives.
Unless you are talking about a serious issue, such as an emergency health risk, only advise an older adult when asked. This will keep their confidence intact, as well as retain your communication’s clarity.
3. Interact with Questions
Everyone enjoys warm-hearted questions about themselves. Whether it’s curiosity regarding hobbies, recent interests, or even what someone’s been up to that day, kind questions about one’s life almost always spark a nice conversation.
With older adults, it’s no different. If there is a senior in your life that you’ve perhaps had trouble communicating with recently, try asking them about their current hobbies. Even curious questions about their past might add some warmth to your communication. Some possible question topics include:
- Music they’ve listened to lately
- Who influenced them the most in their life
- Fashion trends they remember from their youth
- If they served in the military, how it shaped them as a person
- A recent hobby they’ve started
- Their favorite item they bought as a child
Any of these topics are great ones to try in your next conversation. You can even think of some pleasant ones yourself that have a warm tone. These are excellent ways to enhance your open communication with seniors.
4. Choose Only Necessary Conflicts
Let’s face it: there will be parts of communication with seniors that won’t always be easy. There will be points in which you both will come to a disagreement. If they’re a close friend or relative, then caring for them may reach periods where you see their decline and feel the need to step in.
Whether you’re dealing with health issues, financial problems, or other topics of concern, ensure that you’re prioritizing them and communicating the importance clearly to the older adult you care about. Remember that, above all else, the conversation is about their wellness and needs.
If there are multiple issues to address, it’s recommended that you deal with them one at a time. This will help ease the stress levels on both sides of the conversation. Ensuring that you communicate clearly about these prioritized concerns one by one will also improve the chances of agreement.
Communication is the foundation of our society, and how we converse with our loved ones has monumental effects. Open communication with seniors can lead to enhanced clarity and positivity on both sides of the dialogue. With these tips, you can help lead the way to stronger communication and an enriched conversational environment.
About the Author
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She frequently works with many home services and lifestyle brands, such as plumbing repair and independent senior living.