Engaging with seniors through meaningful conversation is an important part of their socialization and has been shown to be particularly important for their well-being. It keeps the brain stimulated and healthy and promotes longer lifespans. It has been connected to greater feelings of happiness and life satisfaction. It can aid in the prevention of general cognitive declines, such as memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and other kinds of dementia. Lack of socialization has been shown to have detrimental effects on seniors that can result in a sense of isolation and loneliness.
Nevertheless, communicating well with seniors can be a challenge for many healthcare professionals. It is often complicated by issues such as hearing or vision loss and memory problems. Training your team to be better communicators is beneficial for everyone, but especially your residents who will find their transition to assisted living to be a more positive experience when they are met by a caring and conversational staff. Engaging in conversation does not always come naturally to everyone, but it is a skill that can be developed.
It begins with the simple act of expressing a genuine interest in each resident. Remember you are talking with someone with decades of experience, knowledge, and memories to draw on. As people age, they are often made to feel like they are no longer relevant. By listening to them and showing interest in who they are, you make them feel valued and let them know that you see them as an individual. Sharing memories, telling stories, and connecting on a personal level can make older adults feel healthier and happier.
Setting the Right Tone
- Be patient. Don’t rush or interrupt.
- Be respectful. Don’t talk down to them. Ask how they would like to be addressed. For example, do they prefer Mr. or Mrs., or being called by their first name?
- Be an active listener. Respond and acknowledge when they speak. Make eye contact.
- Speak clearly and simply. Be mindful of any hearing, vision, or memory issues.
Potential Conversation Starters
Ask About Their Childhood.
Taking a walk down memory lane is…