Have you ever noticed that it’s the little things that make a big difference?
The “little things” come in many forms. It’s the unknown stranger in the car in front of me who pays for my coffee; the old friend who calls to catch up; the beautiful sunset on a long, hard day; the friendly conversation at a checkout counter.
Sometimes it’s simply being seen, heard and understood that makes the difference.
Connection and relationship are human needs that don’t change as we age. Unfortunately, with the progression of dementia and hearing challenges, our loved ones may feel disconnected and overlooked.
Here are a few “little things” you can do that will make a big difference:
- Be inclusive. No one, at any age, wants to be left out. As caregivers, medical professionals or family members, it’s important for us to include older people in the conversation. I’ve often seen people speak to the caregiver or family member instead of speaking directly to the older person. If you see older people not being included in conversations, stop, make eye contact and use their name.
- Be patient. There may be changes you need to make to communicate more effectively with your loved one. Learn to speak slowly and clearly. Allow plenty of space in conversation for response.
- Be curious. I believe that being curious about the person you’re speaking with is the best way to communicate care. Your loved one has experienced life in a way no one else has. Their life and story are unique. Be curious about those experiences. Listen to stories and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
These three “little things” will communicate to your loved one that they’re worth time and attention. Their voice is worth being heard, their stories are important, and their life has value.