Communication with old people involves more than just words and our sense of hearing. We also use our sense of sight, smell, touch, and most of all, our cognition.
Communicating with the elderly can prove to be challenging, especially when taking into consideration their decline in mental and physical abilities.
This is why it’s important to learn how to effectively handle communication with old people - especially if you have a loved one, relative or friend who you want to maintain and nurture a relationship with. Here are 3 important rules to remember:
Step 1: Be Respectful.
Respect the elderly person’s values, backgrounds and life experiences. Don’t try to impose your own views, or insist on correcting their opinions even when you disagree with them.
You should also respect their privacy when they prefer to be left on their own. When old people are talking, listen actively. Let them finish and don’t try to interrupt or cut them off.
Letting them express their thoughts and emotions is important when communicating with the elderly. Besides, you can always benefit from the life lessons they may impart.
Step 2: Be Sensitive.
Sometimes, the physical or mental state of old people can stand in the way of expressing their needs. More than just their physical needs (such as food, clothing, and so on), it is also important to be mindful of their emotional needs.
Listen to the said and unsaid. Do they seem lonely? Do you feel like they need company? When in their company, try to tell if they’d rather chat or be quiet.
When you feel like they’d want to be quiet, do not try starting a conversation or keep asking them questions. Just being there, spending time with them, is as important as talking to them or cheering them up.
Step 3: Be Patient.
As communication with old people can be difficult, it is important to be always patient. When talking or explaining to them, remain patient when they ask you to repeat yourself.
When it takes them a while to finish what they are doing or saying, quietly wait for them. Try using gestures along with words, or write down what you want to say when necessary. Use simple words and sentences.
Though it may be challenging, effective communication with old people can be very rewarding. Being able to speak to and understand your loved ones, even in their twilight years, is always worth the effort.