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5 Tips to Better Communication with Seniors

By Ann Ruckdaschel

One of the things I love most about what I do is talking one on one with people to learn more about them.   As a person who had “older” parents, their friends were also “older.”  Whenever they would visit, I loved hearing their stories from when they were younger. Their friends thought it humorous that I found their stories interesting rather than boring.

I’ve always been told I’m a “good listener.”  What does that mean?  Does it mean I don’t fall asleep when people are talking to me?  Or that I don’t interrupt them while they’re talking?  According to Money-zine.com, listening skills are defined as:

“…the ability to actively understand information provided by the speaker, and display interest in the topic discussed. It can also include providing the speaker with feedback, such as the asking of pertinent questions; so the speaker knows the message is being understood.”

We’ve all been in situations where we are talking to someone who is hard of hearing which can be frustrating for both parties. Here are several ways to assist you when communicating:

  • Minimize outside noise — Extra noise can be a hindrance to conversation. Minimize it by closing the door, moving to a quieter room, or going outside.
  • Get on their level……sit down. If the person you are talking to is sitting down, you do the same.  This allows for more “equality”
  • Face the person— This allows them to read your lips if necessary, and see your facial expressions.
  • Lower voice volume — Louder doesn’t always mean better, especially if someone is wearing a hearing aid. It can, in fact, make it more difficult to understand you.
  • Speak slowly — If you talk fast, the words blend together, and sound mumbled. Speak slower and be concise.

As people age, they feel more alone and in the way of others.  All they want is to feel as if they belong and that someone is taking an interest in them.  Knowing someone is taking the time to listen to them is huge.  Expressing interest in what they are talking about goes a long way in building a relationship with someone as well as earning their trust.

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