Honesty is always the best policy, right? Yet there are times when some truths are better left unsaid, or at least worded more positively, particularly when communicating with aging loved ones. While we may have the very best of intentions in trying to help older adults navigate life, we can help prevent hurt feelings in our loved ones by rethinking statements such as the following:
- Don’t you remember…? Short-term memory loss is so common in older adults, and pointing it out so bluntly can be belittling. Instead, try non-verbal tactics to help jog your loved one’s memory, such as strategically placing positive reminder notes around the house, such as on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, TV remote, etc. If a verbal reminder would still be helpful, be sure to keep your tone light; and ask the senior if she would like you to assist, such as in making a medical appointment for her or picking up a prescription.
- You’re just not trying hard enough. The truth is, many older adults develop physical or cognitive impairments that make once-simple tasks extremely challenging. It’s equally important not to take over tasks the person can still do, but which may take a bit longer to manage. Offering to serve as a partner in accomplishing a difficult task can also be effective, such as asking the senior to take care of part of the task while you tackle another.
- I know; you already told me. It can be frustrating to listen to stories you’ve already heard more than once from a senior loved one, but it’s important to remain patient and provide the older adult with the respect you would want if the tables were turned.
- When you die, can I have…? No one wants to feel as though their possessions are of such value that someone can’t wait to get their hands on them. If the senior does not have a will in place that outlines his or her wishes, it’s definitely a good idea to get that taken care of, but allow the person the freedom to choose to whom his or her belongings should be given.
- Wake up! Let go of any feelings of embarrassment you may have about your senior loved one falling asleep in inappropriate times, such as during a movie, a religious service, or a concert. Altered sleep patterns, medication side effects, among other factors, can make it difficult for some older adults to sleep well during the night.
For more effective communication tips to help senior loved ones maintain the dignity they deserve, contact us today at (949) 859-4700 or contact us online.