Talking (and Listening) to Your Senior Loved One
As people age, conversation can become more difficult. Your senior friend or relative may be just as interested as ever in what you have to say, but physical changes can simply make it too hard to talk and listen. As bones age and change shape, the function of the rib cage is affected. Muscles associated with breathing can also weaken. Years of smoking or exposure to chemicals, decreased heart function and obesity make it harder to speak loudly and clearly or to sustain conversation for a period of time. Hearing decreases, too, and constantly straining to hear is stressful.
You may have traveled a long way or taken time away from your job to visit with your loved one, only to confront long silences and awkward pauses. But there are ways to make your visit with your friend comfortable and meaningful for both of you.
Most important of all, in communicating with your senior loved one, is to remember to listen. If you hurry in, say what's on your mind, and rush away, the other person may never have a chance to express what they have been thinking about. They have years of experience and plenty of time to reflect over a long life, and it will be a blessing and benefit to make sure they have time to talk. A great opening question is, "What do you want me to know today?" You may learn a fascinating story of their childhood, a forgotten bit of history or just how much they love and appreciate your visit.
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