Ultimately, the right communication strategies can yield positive results for both you and your aging loved one.
Set the Scene
The most productive interactions take place in quiet, comfortable environments. Minimize distractions by turning off televisions and radios. Begin the conversation by addressing your loved one by name, introducing yourself, and identifying your relationship. Speak in a calm and pleasant manner to promote a positive mood.
Use Body Language
It’s not always what you say but how you say it. When words fail, body language is a valuable communication tool. Touch, such as holding hands and hugging, and other nonverbal cues can help keep your loved one focused and responsive. Eye contact is also essential; so if your loved one is seated or laying down, put yourself at the same level for critical face-to-face connection.
If your loved one is attempting to engage in an activity, break the task into small steps to make it more manageable. Offer gentle reminders, encouragement as needed, and help along the way.
Listen With Your Heart
Communication involves listening with your ears, but it also involves listening with your heart. Be patient, positive and encouraging. If your parent becomes anxious or upset, switch the topic or suggest a change in scenery. Be careful not to ignore or belittle the feelings of your loved one: acknowledge his/or emotions and offer a reassuring response.
Ultimately, memory loss can be equally hard on both the caregiver and their loved one, but communication strategies can help ensure fulfilling connections for both.
Promote an optimal setting for conversation by minimizing distractions and maintaining a calm, positive manner.
When words fail, body language offers valuable insights.
Simple language and “yes” or “no” questions work best.
Acknowledge your loved one’s emotions and offer reassurance.
A stroll down memory lane and/or the introduction of humor can be valuable communication techniques.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.