Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Conversations with Seniors: a simple guide to making them easier

In 2000, approximately 605 million people were 60 years or older. According to the Administration on Aging, that number is expected to be close to 2 billion by 2050. It will be the adult children who manage the care of these older adults that will need to discuss the many difficult, yet important topics that are critical to the health and wellbeing of these senior adults. Topics of conversation include finances, driving safety, living situations, health and wellbeing, and many more.

There is an ever-growing need today for understanding just how to effectively communciate with aging adults on these important topics and that providing them with meaningful support is imperative for their wellbeing. While it can be a daunting challenge, it is essential for those managing the care of older adults to be patient, respectful and empathetic to the situation. An effective conversation with an older adult should always consist of thoughtful speech, careful listening and an open awareness to their wants and needs.

The Key Ingredients to a safe conversation:
  • Acknowledge the difficulty of the conversation.
  • Look at all facts - be gentle and sensitive (if there is any resistance, back-up and create a safe space before proceeding.)
  • Ask questions - always look for ways to have the senior control the conversation.
  • Identify the outcome you're both looking for - the future you want to create. Be open to their thoughts and be thinking outside the box.
  • Inquire into what would help the senior create the next stage of their life as the best part of their life.
  • Take this as an opportunity for soul searching and valuing your relationship with your senior.
Common Barriers to Good Communication
  • Judgments
  • Having the answer
  • Being argumentative
  • Getting angry
  • Getting defensive
When utilizing this information, it will help to provide you with the tools to plan and structure your conversations more effectively and it will provide you with the support you need to support the seniors in your life. See Making the Difficult Conversation Easier.  


Sources:

www.csa.us
www.aoa.gov


Blog post provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors