Communication Tips for Family Caregivers
Caregiving comes with its fair share of challenges and obstacles. We understand. But there are ways to minimize your stresses & frustrations, especially when it comes to communicating with your aging loved ones in a meaningful and compassionate, yet direct, way. Here are 4 helpful communication tips for caregivers:
Talk early & often
Aging is a fact of life. Many people accept this truth and may begin to prepare for the later stages of life before it’s too late. However, there are certain subjects that can be difficult for an aging adult to accept, like having to forfeit his or her ability to drive or having to move into an assisted living facility. If you begin to have these conversations before the changes actually need to happen, then you can help your aging loved one to mentally prepare for these possibilities and to understand that this could become his or her inevitable reality.
Avoid unsolicited advice
Your aging loved ones have likely been your mentors and teachers for the better part of your life. Remember this when you engage in a sensitive conversation with a parent or another elder adult who is struggling with the later stages of life. Try to put yourself in their shoes and proactively think before you speak so that you’re not being offensive or condescending to your aging loved one; choose your words carefully and advise only when specifically asked.
Did you know that in adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging? According to HearingLoss.org, 1 out of 3 people has a hearing loss at age 65. This fact is important to keep in mind and consider as your loved one ages and should impact how you converse. Always speak clearly. Accepting aging and all that comes with it may not be easy for many adults, and some may rely on reading lips to fully grasp what you’re saying to them. Remember to speak “boldly”. Be mindful of the volume of your voice and make sure that you’re not being offensive with your level or tone. As the old adage goes, “speak how you [would] want to be spoken to”; speak with caution and respect.
An important tip in all phases of life, listen with intention. There is a critical difference between hearing what someone is saying and listening to what someone is saying. Engage with your aging loved one and focus on what they’re telling you and how you can help to make things a little bit easier as time goes on. Concentrate on and process why they’re giving you information and ensure that you fully grasp the meaning behind their words so that you can treat them with the respect and care that they need and deserve.
Based on your experience, what communication tips would you share with the caregiving community?