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Guidelines for Communicating with Older Persons

posted Jan 12, 2016, 7:05 AM by Senior Monongalians   [ updated Jan 12, 2016, 7:09 AM ]

If you are caring for an older person, you may find that communicating is sometimes a challenge.  Here are some rules to follow that may help you communicate with any older adult.

 General principles:

§  Use plain language.  That means using words that people will understand the first time they hear it.

§  Use the word “you” whenever it’s appropriate to make communication more personal.

§  Respect the person’s background, knowledge and values.


Personal contact:

§  Get low and go slow.  If you want to make someone comfortable, don’t position yourself so that you are standing or seated above that person. 

§  Take your time; do not rush the person.

§  Watch your tone of voice and body language.  They reflect your attitude and may mean more than the words you say.

§  To overcome hearing difficulties, eliminate background noises to the extent possible.  Keep sentences short, and emphasize key words.

§  Use her name frequently, and show respect.

§  Make eye contact, and maintain it as much as possible.

§  Ask one question at a time.

§  Be patient.  If the person has a story, let her tell it in her own way and time.

§  Keep it simple, sincere and clear.


Above all, reassure the person by showing that you are interested and that you care.