Tips for Better Communication

| By Jodi Horton

Communication is a necessary part of caregiving. You have to communicate with family members, with physicians, other caregivers, and with the person to whom you’re providing care. It shouldn’t be any surprise then that sometimes you can run into communication difficulties.  For this article, we’re focusing on tips for communicating with elderly adults with cognitive challenges.

It’s important to remember that communication is both verbal and nonverbal. We’ve always appreciated the SOLVER acronym from Dale Larson’s The Helper’s Journey for positive nonverbal communication. These cues for nonverbal communication assure the other individual that we are providing him/her  with our undivided attention. Here’s how SOLVER goes.

S: Squarely face the other person.

O: Adopt an open posture.

L: Lean forward.

V: Verbally follow.

E: Maintain eye contact.

R: Be relaxed.

To improve verbal communication, keep these tips in mind.

Allow extra time to communicate. Don’t rush through the conversation and give yourself more time to explain concepts or instructions and repeat the important information.

Simplicity is better. Simple, short sentences in plain language with only one idea or instruction are easier for to understand.

Repeat essential information and focus on important details. Repetition and emphasis can make it easier for an individual with cognitive difficulties to remember these facts.

Consider other factors that may affect communication such as stress, fatigue, and side effects of illness or medications. These factors may contribute to difficulty concentrating and make it more difficult to remember conversation details.

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