As our family members age and require extra care and support, this can result in changes in a family’s dynamics. There are changes in the roles, responsibilities, and feelings of family members which may lead to tension and fighting. At this time effective communication becomes very important in our relationships with those we are caring for.
We all like to be spoken to with dignity and respect. Taking the time to listen and caring to understand what our elderly loved one is saying can lead to a more loving relationship. Below are tips to help improve our communication skills in conversation.
Do not offer advice unless it’s asked for. The role reversal in a parent and child relationship can be hard on the parent. So it is best to avoid giving advice unless it is specifically asked for. You can be encouraging and offer support without giving advice.
Listen to what your elderly loved one is saying. Don’t interrupt when they are speaking or try to fill in any silence. Be patient and give them time to think and formulate a response. Listening is a two-way street, so make sure that they are hearing what you are saying.
Accept that there will be differences of opinion. Even in a family that shares the same values and ideas, no one will agree all the time. So respect the opinion of all involved and listen to all sides. When possible, decisions should include the input of everyone.
Choose the appropriate setting for a conversation. Avoid background noise and activities that could add difficulties in hearing what all parties are saying. Speaking directly face to face with your elderly loved one can make it easier for them to hear and understand what is being said.
Make sure to speak clearly. Some elderly adults are not comfortable admitting that it is hard to hear and understand conversations going on around them. Make sure to talk in an even tone of voice. Keep communications matter-of-fact with short sentences and focus on one subject at a time.
Make sure your speaking does not appear to be condescending. Do not speak to your elderly loved one as you would a child. Coming across as patronizing is a surefire way to change the mood of the conversation.
Laughter is still the best medicine. Even when discussing difficult subjects, there may be some humorous moments. A shared laugh can help build closeness and ease tensions. Just make sure to laugh with them and not at their expense.
Having trouble getting a conversation started? One of the easiest ways is by reminiscing. Asking your elderly loved one questions about significant events and people in their lives, past and present, may help lead the conversation onto more important topics that need to be discussed. Reminiscing can also be used to forge an enjoyable productive relationship and help build a bridge between the past and present. If you are concerned about your loved one living alone at home, contact us to see how we may be of support to keep them safe.