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Communicating with Your Family Member or Friend

23 Nov 2017

Communication in Elder Home Care

One of the challenges of elder home care is communicating with the person for whom you are caring. One way to improve communication is to involve the person you’re caring for when possible. Instead of stepping in to do what you think they need, ask your family member or friend how they are feeling or what they would like you to do for them. This lets them see that you appreciate their perspective and their input. This can also improve your ability to provide appropriate and compassionate elder home care. If there is a history of “bad blood” that you are unable to resolve yourself or with professional guidance, you may need to consider alternate caregiving arrangements.

Communicating with a loved one who is experiencing dementia or who has had a stroke can be especially demanding because of speech and/or language impairments that result from the illness or condition. The Alzheimer Society is an excellent source for tips and strategies on communicating with someone who has a dementia. The Heart and Stroke Foundation also has information on helping stroke survivors with aphasia improve communication. The York/Durham Aphasia Centre is another good resource for information and services.

Meaningful Communication Strategies

Communication involves not just verbal and non-verbal messages, but also information processing – that is, listening and understanding.

Listen with an open mind. This is the heart of good communication. Respect the opinions of others that differ from your own. It will deepen the depth of your elder home care since it will give you a stronger view of your family member or friend’s feelings and perspectives. It may also reveal new solutions to problems that you thought were unsolvable. Sometimes the solution to the problem is right under our nose – we just have to look, listen and learn.

Some listening strategies that you can use with your family member or friend are:

  • Direct your full attention to the person when they speak.

  • Assure the person that they have been heard by acknowledging, confirming and validating what they have said – both in their spoken word and body language.

  • Provide encouragement for them to express their opinions and feelings.

  • Use appropriate tone of voice when you are speaking.

  • Decrease noise and activities within the environment.