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Effective Communication with the Elderly

Are you taking care of someone who has difficulty communicating with you? Perhaps it's due to dementia, or hearing loss? Maybe they're in the late stages of a critical illness and speaking is too much effort for them. It is extremely frustrating for the caregiver to try and understand what the person they're caring for wants and needs when they don't have feedback to inform them. As caregivers, we want to solve problems and to help the person we're caring for to be as comfortable as possible.  But it's so difficult to do when they have trouble communicating.  

It might surprise you to learn that sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop trying to communicate, trying to help, trying to solve problems. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just sit and listen to each other breathe. It is comforting to people to know they're not alone. Someone who cares for them is with them in their weakest moments, just breathing together. As you sit with someone in these quiet moments, you'll be surprised at the thoughts that cross your mind, the memories that pop into your consciousness. Some of them will be happy, some melancholy, some sad or even angry. The content doesn't matter because the impact will be the same. The memories will bring you closer to the other person. Quietly, allowing the memories to enter your mind, will afford the opportunity for the memory to be examined in the perspective of the present moment. Is this the final thought you want to hold on to? Can you let the memory go and forgive the hard feelings, let go of the sadness, enjoy the happy memories? This silent communication can be a gift to you. Spend time with the person you care for unwrapping the gift.