Thursday, May 12, 2016
I have been doing workshops for seniors for a while now and I have found these techniques helpful when I am delivering my workshops. The people I deliver the workshops to are at least 10 to 15 years older then I am. So I am talking about people who are over 80. I found that it is important for me to understand that as people grow older, they often become more difficult to understand, what you are saying and in addition changes in their environment may influence their communication.
Here are some tips I found useful when communicating with the elderly. Do not communicate quickly with the elderly, when communicating, maintain eye contact, and speak clearly.
People sometimes get in the habit of multitasking (checking our cell phones or other devices springs to mind) while speaking with their peers, resulting in a weaker message, or worse conveying the message that we are not interested in what the other person is saying. Our peers may understand and may be accustomed to this communication method, however, elders do not like this way of communicating.
Elders may demand extra attention in conversations to not convey that you respect what they have to say. This also allow you to ensure that they receive your message clearly. Another important factor is to communicate as simply as possible using small words, short sentences and visual aids. Many elderly have short-term memory loss, which means that they may struggle to remember recent events or conversations that you may have had with them.
To help elders recall what you are communicating to them, you could re-state key ideas of the topic frequently. Some believe that repeating key points three times helps people to remember the points later on. Many authors use this same technique by stating the key points in the introduction and conclusion.
Professional authors are presenting the important features of the overall message that they want their readers to recall. This may not always be important when communicating with the elderly but it is a helpful technique if you notice that the elder has difficulty remembering the key points of your conversations.
Listening to elders can also play an essential role in the communication process; communication is a give-and-take relationship. Sometimes, I forget and start focusing on my own thoughts and responses and do not pay enough attention to the other person’s message. I correct myself because I have found that by taking the time to listen and asking the elder questions, I find that all other aspects of communication improve as well.
The elderly are not the only ones who want to be listened to and heard, although it is especially important that they are. In today’s conversations with our peers, some of us have come to expect that the person we are engaged with is not fully engaged in our conversation. This is the new "norm" which the elderly do not like.
Making sure that you receive the sender’s message is essential to have an appropriate response, sometimes we may be thinking about our response while the other person is still talking. By listening intently, I have found that it can often take our communication to a greater level. If you respect the sender you will learn more about them.
You may find that this technique of communication will carry over into all aspects of your life. If you have ever watched an interview on television,you can observe how intently the interviewer appears to be listening to the interviewee. Expert communicators have developed great listening skills, because they understand how important listening is when speaking with someone.
It is important to allow extra time for the elder to ask questions when you are communicating and express their reaction to what has been said. Elders have a tendency to struggle when conveying their thoughts and feelings; sometimes there is a time lapse that is longer than younger adults.
Although waiting for a response can be trying at times, it should not prevent you from asking questions. Keeping elders engaged in the conversation helps you to understand them better, strengthens your relationship and gives them confidence. By taking measures to improve message quality and using the basic principles of communication, you can enrich all conversations with the elderly.
The positive aspects of good communication are present in all social environments and mastering them will help you to convey your messages more effectively. By using some of the same techniques to communicate as the professionals do, you can enhance the elder’s chances or receiving your message and improve the relationship.
1. Be patient when communicating.
2. Keep messages short, simple and to the point.
3. Focus on listening and interpreting verbal and non-verbal communication.
4. Use non-verbal gestures to complement your verbal message.
5. Summarize and repeat key points if necessary.