7 Tips to Communicate Effectively with an Elderly Patient

As people grow older, they experience hearing problems and slow cognitive function, like brain lesions, sensory deterioration, and declining memory, which may make communication challenging. However, there are better ways to approach elderly patients to help facilitate interactions and create a friendly environment. Facilitating effective communication will not only make your patient enjoy the interaction, but you will also be providing better care. Here are 7 key tips you can use to communicate effectively with the elderly.

Exercise Patience 

With age, it becomes harder for the elderly to process large amounts of information at a go. So when you hurry your patient to retrieve or tell information, they may become nervous, lack focus, and communicate poorly. Instead, schedule special visits (especially to those patients who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s) to give them enough time to collect all the information needed without hurrying.

Be Aware of Your Patient’s Health

Before initiating any communication with a patient, always consider their health issues. Some health problems may affect your patient’s understanding and communication. For instance, they might have speech, memory, or hearing problems, hindering smooth communication. However, it’s important to note that chronological age is not often an indicator of an elderly’s health.

Maintain Eye Contact

Eye contact is an impressive form of nonverbal communication. Good eye contact with your patient strongly conveys that you are concerned about their health. Eye contact will create a positive environment for your patient and make them feel comfortable and free to open up about their health. Maintaining eye contact will help you get valuable information to help care for them.

Listen Actively

When you actively listen to your patient, you will build trust with them and get many valuable pieces of information that can help you treat them more effectively. After gathering valuable information:

  • Engage them with questions to clarify what they are saying.
  • Give your patient full time to express themself before asking the next question.
  • Try to simplify your questions by using the yes or no format.

Minimize Distractions

When talking to elderly patients, it’s crucial to maintain a seamless flow of communication. Face-to-face communication is one way to achieve this, as it will help those who suffer from hearing loss read your lips if they can and stay connected to you as you talk. If you’re communicating via the phone on a video call, ensure you devote all your attention to the patient on the other end. Try to minimize communication with other people in the room and unnecessary movements when talking.

Advocate the use of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are custom-programmed to address a unique pattern of hearing loss. Patients with common hearing problems like congenital deafness, age-related hearing loss, tinnitus, sensorineural hearing loss, and acoustic trauma can be advised to use hearing aids. But you have to learn how to connect hearing aids to your phone device before teaching them how to connect it to their phones.

Attend to them in a Quiet Place

Busy reception areas might be noisy and uncomfortable for elderly patients. Sit them in a place far from noise and disruptions during visits. In addition, make sure the seats you offer them are firm and of standard height and with arm support to make them more comfortable and attentive.

With empathy, patience, and understanding, you can show your patients that you truly care about their well-being. You can have an open and trustworthy relationship with your patients by minimizing distractions, actively listening and sending non-verbal cues, and maintaining eye contact.