Owners' Blog

How to Communicate Effectively with Your Elderly Loved One

By Greg and Hilary Eldridge

Elder Care in Sugar Hill GA


Communicating with your elderly loved one can be more difficult at some times than at others. You might even find that your loved one's communication skills change rapidly, meaning that you have to be on top of your game as a caregiver.

Lower Yourself Physically

Many people who talk to elderly loved ones, particularly those who are confined to bed or to a wheelchair, stand or loom over the person. This can be intimidating and it can make communication difficult. If your loved one is confined to a bed or to a wheelchair, sit or lower yourself so that you're more on eye level with your loved one. You'll be better able to keep your loved one's attention and it won't be a strain to speak with you.

Choose Your Battles

You may very well run into situations in which your loved one becomes irrational either because of an ailment, such as dementia, or simply because he's frustrated and wants to spread that frustration around a bit. Learn when to try to correct an irrational situation and when to simply leave it alone. You'll find that you're less frustrated and, if your loved one is simply in a mood, you won't have contributed further to that mood.

Enunciate Rather than Shouting

Some people believe that speaking more loudly, whether a loved one has a hearing problem or not, will get the information to the loved one more effectively. In reality, the problem is often that the speaker simply needs to speak more clearly and enunciate their words. Try that rather than speaking louder to see if it's effective.

Speak More Slowly or in Shorter Sentences

Particularly in the case of a loved one with dementia or other cognitive problems, speaking more slowly or giving information in shorter sentences can help a great deal. Pay attention to how much of what you're saying typically seems to soak in for your loved one and try to match what you say to how much he can interpret at any given time.

Maintain Your Loved One's Dignity

Always do your best to maintain your loved one's dignity while talking with him. The changes to his communication skills aren't his fault and he feels bad enough about being unable to communicate the way that he used to. Take your time and allow your loved one the space and the time that he needs, too.

For help with your elderly loved one's specific communication issues, ask your loved one's doctor for additional tips.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Sugar Hill, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.