Bridging Communication Gaps with Seniors
If you are a caregiver and struggling in the communication department, you are certainly not alone. This is a concern that a lot of people face. Sometimes you feel like you're on two different planets, talking two different languages and at least one of you gets incredibly frustrated. Sound familiar? Bridging the communication gap is actually not as difficult as one may think!
Understand the Aging Process
As irritated as you may be that you have to continually repeat yourself you need to understand that they likely feel exactly the same way. Do you think that they are ignoring you or changing the subject on purpose? Okay, they might be but most of the time they're probably not!
Seniors go through visual, physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive changes. By understanding the dilemmas they are facing with these changes, you may figure out how to address these them in a more productive way that won't upset either one of you.
Learn to Listen
You may think that they are making no sense, saying random words or having an off day but they are likely trying to tell you something important. Don't dismiss what they're saying. Take the time to stop and listen. If they are expressing their feelings about a topic, respect them. There is no right and wrong when it comes to their opinion and they are not children. They raised you so try to remember this. Even if you're late for an appointment, taking a minute and really listening will ultimately save you a lot more time and hurt feelings in the long run.
Don't Rush Them
Fair enough, it can be frustrating when all you want is an answer whether they want their apple peeled or not but once again, you need to be patient. Remember that the decision-making process is not as clear and precise as it once way. Maybe they are remembering cutting apples up for you when you were young or maybe they really are stalling to keep you there longer. Who knows? All that's important is that you give them time to make their decision, don't make it for them because you're tired of waiting after 20 seconds.
Keep it Simple
Don't ask a second question without getting an answer to the first one. They are still trying to process things and you throwing more variables into the picture does not help. It's confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. If you are asking them to make a decision, give them 2 options not 10. When you provide multiple subjects, communication will likely seem like an impossible task. When you take it slow and keep it simple, you'll cover more ground, one step at a time.
Give the Control
Rather than make their decision for them and cause they to feel as though they are losing their independence, learn how to ask the right questions. Give them an A or B option that are both ideal choices and let them pick. This still allows them to feel as though they are in control while give you peace of mind that they will make the right decision.