Working in the long term care industry, we need to be aware of our communication styles and how we are perceived by the patients we serve. The Look Closer, See Me Generational Diversity and Sensitivity training program (www.LookCloserSeeMe.org) from the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Aging with Dignity (www.SafeAfter60.org) takes a closer look at key communication tips via their SAGE ADVICE recommendations.
Communication – Key Points to Remember
- Older people need and are entitled to be recognized when matters involve them. Even if a person has dementia or memory loss, direct your comments and attention to the individual.
- You can interact more effectively by understanding how aging changes can impact communication.
- We must communicate respectfully with older people and provide the right information the right way to help them make informed decisions.
S is for simplify. Instead of technical or medical terms, use simple words that older people are likely to be familiar with and understand.
A is for assure. Don’t assume all older people are deaf, dumb or blind. Assure them they matter by communicating with kindness and involving them in conversations
G is for give information. Help older people make informed decisions by sharing information in the way they prefer. Writing or demonstrating something can be helpful.
E is for ease into it. Avoid sharing too much, too quick. Unfamiliar situations can be overwhelming, so slow down and allow people time to process the information.
A is for acknowledge. Instead of overlooking older people, recognize, engage and listen to them.
D is for discovery. Just because someone nods their head doesn’t mean they understand you. Ask older people questions to see if they truly understand.
V is for value. Avoid using overly friendly terms and baby talk. Instead, respect older people by using their preferred name.
I is for individualize. Acknowledge language barriers and be sensitive to one’s values, cultural beliefs and changes associated with natural aging.
C is for communicate. Avoid telling people what to do. Instead, focus on what is most important for them to know and consider. Make sure they understand what is required of them.
E is for empathize. Try to understand a situation from the older person’s perspective. Watch for feedback and cues to guide communication and information sharing. Be sensitive to the situation, potential challenges and needs.