Communicating With My Grandma

Biggest Challenge: Communicating With My Grandma

--Jessica

Response from DM:

Dear Jessica,

Communicating with others, as well as communicating with ourselves, is what most of us think we do all the time. But the question is: Are our thoughts, words and actions really getting through to the other person? Or, if we are communicating with ourselves: Are our own thoughts clear, organized, logical, and to the point? Do we say in a paragraph what could so easily be said in a sentence or two? I grew up with the old adage: We have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, therefore we should be listening and observing twice as much as we are talking. It was once pointed out to me that our words only count for 7 percent of our communication, and the other 93 percent comes from our tone, volume, attitude and body language.

In my book, Elder Care Made Easier, I put communication at the very beginning of the book. When we are dealing with an older person, it helps to approach communication in the following ways:

  • Ask the senior where they would like you to sit (the senior may have a favorite chair that they like for themselves).
  • Ask questions one at a time, so the elder can listen to the question, take time to think about their answer, and then respond to your question. This may be time-consuming, but you are honoring the senior by giving them the time they need to process questions and their responses.
  • Make sure you are sitting where the light falls on your face. Many seniors are using all of their senses to concentrate on the conversation. Being able to see your face and read your lips means they are able to give their full attention; likewise, they can see that you are giving them your full attention.
  • If they wear glasses or have a hearing aid, make sure the glasses are clean and the batteries in the hearing aid are fresh and working.
  • Wear bright clothing. This helps the senior to focus on you and your face; it also helps them to pay attention.
  • If appropriate, hold his or her hand. Not everyone likes to be touched but you know your elder, and his or her comfort level. The human touch can be very comforting. Very often as you grow older, there are fewer people in your circle of friends, family and acquaintances to embrace you or simply hold your hand.
  • Sometimes the best communication you can give is silence, while you watch a sun set, watch children at play, walk in the woods, or sit on a park bench and people watch. Just knowing someone cares enough to spend time with you is communication in and of itself.

Thank you for the time and attention you are giving and sharing with your grandma.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Marion

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