3 “Little Things” That Improve Communication Between Caregivers and Loved Ones

caregiver looking at senior man in wheel chair with green in the background

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 when communicating with your loved one:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 the conversation for a response. Often we feel hurried, ready to move on with our day or tasks, yet slowing down, and even sitting down, allows more space for conversation and connection. Be patient! When it comes to communicating it can take time.
  3. Be curious. Be curious about the person you’re speaking with. I believe this is one of the best ways 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 are worth time and attention. Their voice is worth being heard, their stories are important, and their life has value.

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