Communicating With the Elderly

Published: 11th June 2010
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Having good communication skills can help prevent terrible reactions from elderly people who may be mentally or physically impaired. The task may become frustrating at times, but communicating is one of the most important things we can do to stay in touch with our elderly loved ones.

When attempting to communicate with elderly people who have limited physical and mental abilities, remember to listen carefully, speak clearly and slowly, and try to use non-verbal communication or body language to help get your message across. It can be the most difficult when trying to communicate with elders who are hearing impaired, deaf, visually impaired, those with aphasics, and those with Alzheimer's Disease.

Professionals at Houston nursing homes and other health care facilities are trained to communicate with elders suffering from all of these kinds of disabilities. If you are having difficulty communicating with the loved ones you care for at home and are in search of some instruction, nurses and health care providers are always available and willing to help you.

Communicating with the Hearing Impaired

The first thing to check for when trying to communicate with the hearing impaired is to see if he/she is wearing a hearing aid. If so, check to make sure the hearing aid is in the person's ear, whether it is turned on, if it needs to be adjusted in volume, or if it needs batteries. If all of these things are in working order and he or she is still have trouble hearing or understanding you, check to see when their last hearing evaluation took place.

With the hearing impaired, it is important to make sure that person sees you approaching them. Otherwise you may startle them. Once you have their direct attention, it may become easier to communicate with them. Stand close and get on the same eye level with them whenever possible. It can be more difficult for them to understand what you are saying if you are speaking to them while simultaneously eating food, chewing tobacco, smoking, or covering your mouth with your hands or any other objects. Keep your hands away from your face and focus on speaking directly to the hearing impaired.

Reduce any background noise or bright light as much as possible. Speak to the elder in a normal tone without shouting at them. Keep in mind that the reason they cannot understand you may not be because they cannot hear you, it might be because they understand the way you have phrased your question or statement. Try repeating what you are trying to say in a different way to help them understand. Use simple, short sentences with easy vocabulary. You might even need to try writing something down for them. No matter what methods you use to communicate with the hearing impaired, allow them plenty of time to converse with them. If they suspect you are in a rush or are getting frustrated with them, it can cause stress and barriers in your relationship.

Communicating with the Deaf

Unfortunately, communicating with the deaf when you do not know sign language can be a very difficult task and is limited to just a few different methods. The first is to write down your messages for them to read. You could also use illustrations to convey your messages. Any messages you have to write down or draw will need to be very concise and to the point. Keep them very simple to understand. The more time you spend with this person the easier it will become for them to read your body language and understand your moods and feelings. Always allow plenty of time to communicate with the deaf to keep the conversation from feeling rushed or pressured.

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