Improving Communication with Aging Parents.
Overcoming Barriers in Communication.
Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, today I am discussing tips for effective communication with seniors. Now, I am going to talk about ways to overcome barriers to communication.
Barriers to communication certainly exist, but there are ways to overcome them. Age related decline and physical abilities can make communication more challenging and some illnesses make communication difficult.
For example, hearing loss can make you harder to understand. So be patience and speak more clearly. You should also face the person when you talk and avoid talking while you eat. If hearing aids are out of the question, check to see of an assistive listening device could improve communication by phone.
Another barrier is vision loss. Vision loss makes it harder for the elderly person to recognize you. So don't take it personally, if they don't recognize you right away. Some elderly people also experience changes in speaking ability and their voices become weaker or harder to understand.
Be patient when listening, and be aware of when the elderly person gets tired and wants the visit to end. Some age related memory loss is normal as people grow older, but it's also a barrier. Most often short term memory is affected making it harder for an elderly person to remember recent events. Keep this in mind and practice patience.
Another barrier is the continuance of the parent-child relationship. For most people, mid-life is a time of independence and mastery. You have gain confidence and a clear sense of what your values are. So this state of life is focused on consolidating your gains and taking out new responsibilities. At the same time mid-life is a time to nurture and give back whether by having children or engaging and mentoring or socialization.
As an adult you probably move quickly and efficiently through the world. Completing tasks and taking care of your many responsibilities, looking ahead to the next mountain to climb. Your elderly parents in contrast are letting go duties and responsibilities as they settle into retirement.
As their physical health and independence fail, they try to hold on to the areas of life they still control. At the same time they are looking back and trying to understand the significance of their experience and what they will leave behind.
It's these different prospectives that can leave to break downs in communication between you and your parents. By understanding the pitfalls, however, you can learn to talk to your elderly parents in a way that helps to close the communication gap.
There are some parents who just refuse to communicate. They simply don't want to deal with the issue you're raising. The best you can do is to practice patience and try not to get frustrated. You should also enlist the support of other family members.
They are friends and trusted medical advisors to see if they can help you in your efforts. It's likely that anyone who cares for your senior loved one is also concerned about similar issues, but may not want to interfere by actively asking them and engaging their support you maybe able to open doors of communication with your parents that otherwise seem closed.
The last thing you should do is allow a lack of knowledge about senior issues to keep you from communicating with your parents. There are a multitude of books, services and Internet sites dedicated exactly to helping adult children deal with aging parents needs.
A little research will go a long way. Caring.
com is a great place for caregivers to learn information, ask the questions, friends support, and share stories with others engaged and caring for their senior loved ones.
Home Instead Senior Care has a significant amount of information on their website, not only about communications issues, but the whole gamut of caring for seniors. If you don't have access to the Internet, you can find a Home Instead Senior Care provider in our local phonebook.
Lastly, we recommend you check with local, state, and national government and nonprofit agencies that deal with elder care. Many have hotlines you can call for information. Others will mail you pamphlets or information available via the Internet. Talking with your senior loved one can be challenging, but when practiced with the tools we've outlined can lead to rewarding conversations and the development of meaningful and loving bonds that last the life time.