Cavendish Manor Retirement Residence

Seven common mistakes when communicating with the elderly

communicating with the elderly

Sharing with seniors may seem like a simple task, but somehow many of us fail to communicate effectively with our parents and grandparents. Why? Due to several common mistakes. We generally have trouble connecting with them because we don’t care enough to change the message in an age-friendly way.

These are the most common mistakes we make when communicating with the aged in our daily lives and how to fix them.


We treat them differently just because they are old

Aging comes with some infirmities or unfortunate problems. Some older people are hard of hearing, have dementia, or suddenly lose their vocabulary. Besides, most seniors are improving their language skills, so there’s no reason to talk loudly to them.

Another thing we often do when trying to connect with older people is to talk about them to the others in the room as if they were already dead. It is very annoying and can be taken as an insult. People who set their voices in high-pitched and baby-like tones are also insulting to the elderly.


We are not compatible with their issues.

As I mentioned earlier, aging has its drawbacks, one of which is that the adjustment periods become longer. If it takes you a few days to get used to the sudden hot weather, the elderly in the family may need two weeks. To ensure that you can effectively communicate with older people, pay more attention to the changes and adjust your message accordingly. For example, if you talk with your mouth, your grandmother will most likely ask you to repeat it because her brain is overreacting to the fact that she can’t read your lips.

To better understand an elderly’s feelings towards the world around them, you can do a simple experiment to communicate with the elderly effectively. Wear gloves, tie your shoelaces between them, earmuffs, and a transparent scarf over your face. Now try to do all the daily tasks at home – this is how an aged might feel.


We forget that they are people we can learn from

There is a strong reason why ancient cultures revered their elders and called them shamans: they are wise. They can teach you a lot. To communicate with older people, you need to stop and listen to them from time to time. They have lived more than 60 years, and more things have happened. They have survived all these events, so they may have some valuable tips to give you.


We forgot they still have sex.

This one’s tricky: We all know that hormones drive our libidos, so it makes sense that when they’re gone, so are the desires. But it’s not that easy because seniors have their libido and may even be able to use it. To communicate with the aged, you should never forget that they are still human but a little more experienced. Combine this with the previous tip, and you have your love coach in your grandma. Because we tend to inherit sexually attractive traits and are more likely to look for similar physical characteristics in our partners, if grandma had a thing for blue-eyed kids, you probably will, too, so you can talk to her about it.


We fell into the trap of a generation gap.

Stereotypes are unpleasant things, and the reality is that most people do, so don’t be one of them. When communicating with seniors, you’re just talking to another human being, so you must discard all generation gap misconceptions and start over. Never assume that a senior can’t understand you just because he is older. Sometimes older generations face similar issues because the social environment is profound. So when you want to communicate with the elderly, be frank and open. For example, the fact that your grandmother grew up when it was shameful to be a single mother does not mean that she thought so. Maybe she was just as open-minded about raising a child without a father as she is today.


We are impatient

Patience is essential when communicating with the aged, as their movements are slower than yours and take more time. If you want a senior to remember something from their early days, you have to wait a few more minutes because the memory is not as sharp in the elderly.

Since body language is a constant in life, elders and young people understand it. Being impatient and showing it will only make you uncomfortable and hinder your attempts to communicate with seniors.


We forget to treat them with respect.

Respect is the most important in relationships, and since we have to accept that older people are wiser, the concern is critical when trying to communicate with them. One of our most common mistakes is giving advice and supporting retirees. They hate this kind of support as much as we do. Unlike us, they are not as impulsive and do not react as suddenly as we do. Respect is one of the keys to effective communication at any age, so use it when trying to communicate with your lovely parents. Respecting radical or different opinions is also a way to show respect, so if your grandmother tries to share her feelings and life experiences with you, listen to her.

All the above rules are general, and since everyone is different, you need to tailor your message to a specific person.

The staff and nurses of Cavendish Manor Retirement Residence have received sufficient training on how to treat the elderly and have the ability to communicate effectively with your loved ones.