Caring for an aging loved one while trying to bridge a communication gap can be frustrating. Older adults are often stubborn and cautious, while dementia or Alzheimer’s can make communicating with others nearly impossible. As a family caregiver, finding creative ways to communicate with those special seniors in your life is essential for their health and well-being. What follows are several communication tips that every caregiver should know.
Be an Active Listener
When older adults bring up a topic that seems unrelated to the matter at hand, it’s often tempting to interrupt them to get the conversation back on track. In most cases, that approach will typically cause a senior to tune you out. Instead, listen attentively to what your loved one is saying and allow them to guide the discussion. Better yet, you might even learn something new.
Ask Thoughtful Questions
Seniors don’t like being told what to do, especially by adult children. When tempted to give “advice,” ask a thoughtful question instead. If you think your loved one needs to hear a hard truth, for instance, turning over the car keys for good, it’s usually best for a trusted outsider (faith leader, doctor, etc.) to start the discussion.
Involve Them in Decision-Making
Because it makes loved ones feel in control, taking this step can be a huge plus when resolving differences in opinion. Asking your senior for input gives them a voice and extends an open invitation to be part of the solution. For instance, you might say, “Mom, what are your ideas on how best to manage your financial affairs?”
In the end, involving loved ones in the decision-making process will make it more likely for them to agree to the suggested changes.
Put on a Unified Front
Using the care of an aging parent as an example, sibling rivalries and personality differences can often interfere with the caregiving process. Avoid family conflicts by involving your siblings in the decision-making process and providing them with periodic updates on Mom or Dad’s condition. If your parent is hesitant to listen to your advice, putting on a unified front can help convince them that you’re right.
Use Technology to Stay Connected
In keeping with the last point, using newer technologies like emails, text messages, or virtual group chats to stay connected with care team members is an efficient way to coordinate caregiving duties. Team members can also share photos or documents via email or text that provide updates on their loved one’s condition. That said, don’t forget that an old-fashioned phone call can often resolve an issue faster than a text, email, or virtual chat.
Never Argue with Someone Who Has Dementia
Trying to communicate with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s can be very frustrating. Rule number one is to never argue or attempt to correct them. You will not be able to convince them that your reality is the true reality no matter how hard you try. Even worse, your actions will only add to their confusion.
Although it’s not easy, accept them for who they have become. When they say something they believe to be true – but you know it’s not – remember that it’s a reality for them.
Keep Notes from Meaningful Discussions
Because caregiving is an ongoing process, it’s essential to record your loved one’s wishes once they’ve shared them with you. For instance, Mom may tell you who she would like her durable power of attorney (POA) to be or who should handle her finances.
Based on what your loved one says, you can determine what steps need to be taken to honor their wishes. It’s also helpful to have written notes on hand when updating fellow caregivers, ensuring your loved one continues to receive the nurturing they deserve!
Flexible In-Home Care for Seniors in Cape Coral
When you or a loved one need assistance, contact Home Instead. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency focuses on maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit Home Instead online now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.