Mistakes to Avoid When Talking to Elderly
Communicating with an elderly person may appear to be an ordinary task, but most of us end up using ineffective communication strategies when we speak to our senior loved ones. Without even realizing it, we end up disrespecting and upsetting our elderly relatives.
This can be avoided if we use an elder-friendly approach and avoid these mistakes.
Not Adapting To Their Issues
Old age brings about a set of lifestyle changes. Your loved one may be affected by minute environmental changes that you can easily ignore, and have a new set of needs and requirements.
It’s imperative that you adapt to these changes. If they’re bothered by background noises and harsh light, consider making changes accordingly. Use thoughtful gestures during conversation to make it easier for them to keep up with the flow of words. For instance, a lot of senior individuals take aid of lip-reading while they communicate. Avoid covering your lips when you speak so that they can see them clearly and recognize what you’re saying.
Communicating respectfully is essential for all healthy conversations, regardless of how old the person you’re speaking to is. However, we often tend to do the opposite when we talk to our elderly relatives and acquaintances, unintentionally being disrespectful instead.
This can manifest in different ways. For example, you may be trying to help them when you offer your advice, but using a patronizing tone irks them and communicates disrespect. A common mistake people make when speaking to older individuals is assuming that they’re all short of hearing. Unless you know they have a hearing difficulty, talking extra slow, loud, and repeating sentences can come across as extremely disrespectful.
Similarly, don’t invalidate their lived experiences and feelings. They may not be able to comprehend the views that evolve with changing times, holding steadfast to their beliefs. While it’s okay to disagree, don’t belittle them for thinking differently than you do and invalidating their opinions and life experiences.
We’ve all had bursts of impatience at some point while communicating with our elderly loved ones. It may have happened while you tried explaining how a particular device works to your grandmother, or when you had to listen to your uncle recall a story you had already heard several times before.
Here’s the thing about being impatient, though: your elderly relatives can detect it. They understand body language just as well as you do, and if you indicate annoyance and impatience through your tone or facial expressions, they’ll know. This can be extremely hurtful and insensitive to them, and they may feel like they’re taking up too much of your time and burdening you.
It’s very important that you’re patient when speaking to your older acquaintances and loved ones. Their memory isn’t as sharp as yours, their movements not as quick, and it may take them longer to grasp something new. Be mindful of their needs and remain patient to avoid upsetting them.
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