“Dad’s hearing has gotten so bad that I have to shout.” “Mom forgets even having conversations with me – never mind remembering what we talked about.” Sound familiar? Communicating with elderly parents, whether they are suffering from dementia or not, can be frustrating.
Check out the following tips to help make your talks more pleasant and more productive.
Don’t talk down to them.
- Use the same tone of voice you use with adults – don’t address them as if they were children. Don’t substitute simpler vocabulary words. If you criticize, do so gently. Don’t scold them.
Include them in the conversation.
- Give them choices. “Would you like a sandwich or salad for lunch?”
- Don’t ignore them when talking with doctors or caregivers. “Dad, why don’t you tell Dr. Smith what’s bothering you?”
- Explain what’s going to happen. “Mom, I can’t take you to the salon, so I arranged a ride for you.”
Make sure they hear you.
- Get their attention before you start talking.
- Face them and speak clearly.
- Raise your voice only if you know there’s a problem with hearing loss.
Talk about your family.
- Elderly parents usually like to feel involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Tell them about Johnny’s soccer game or Suzie’s report card.
Talk about the past.
- Your mom may have forgotten what she did yesterday but still have strong memories of the time her dad took her to a baseball game. Let her tell the story again.
- Be prepared to say the same things several times.
- Getting angry will only agitate them and make communication even more difficult.
Always be positive and let your parents know how much you care about them, respect them and want to help. If you need advice about how to better communicate with your elderly parents, reach out to the C.A.R.E. team at your local SYNERGY HomeCare office.