It is not always easy to converse with the seniors in your life, especially if they are your parents. Adult children often struggle to feel comfortable overcoming such a radical role reversal. Even if the older person is not a family member, generational misunderstandings problems dealing with deteriorating mental acuity are common. Here are some ways you improve the way you talk to the elderly.
Avoid Providing Unwanted Advice
It is natural to want to protect someone who you feel is making the wrong choices, but unless the senior is in physical or financial harm, it is better to wait before dispensing your unwelcome wisdom. Remember, even if you are family, you won’t agree on everything, and everyone has the right to live the way they want.
Be Prepared to Listen
What is the senior really trying to say to you? It is difficult for many aging parents to hear advice from their children, but some find it close to impossible to tell the kids they provided for years, how they are really feeling or to ask for help. That is why you need to listen for clues in your conversations and to pick up unspoken visual cues. It is a complex and often frustrating balancing act between giving seniors the freedom and the action they crave.
Imagine how it feels for an aging person to be in situations where they are struggling with daily tasks they hardly even had to think about before. It can be devastating. Combine that with a diminishing mental capability and it is not uncommon for seniors to lash out or have wide mood swings. Try to be patient and understanding. Speaking with an elderly person isn’t always a cakewalk, so remember to carefully pick your battles and avoid unnecessary conflict for both of your sakes.
Treat Every Senior as You Would Like to Be Treated
It is a simple rule your parents probably taught you, “Do onto others, as you would like them to do onto you,“ but sometimes it’s difficult to remember. Stay away from infantilizing a senior with your words or actions. Avoid answering questions for them, coddling, or acting condescending in any way at all. Contradicting or making decisions for a senior, especially in public, can easily lead to an argument or at least resentment.
Take it Easy and Learn to Laugh
Dealing with an aging adult isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it is special, and sometimes can be a wonderful experience. Make sure you don’t get too stressed out, and, of course, remember to share a laugh with, and not at the expense of, the senior.
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