Communicating with Elderly Patients

Old memories

Reminiscing of old times

Communicating with Elderly Clients

Especially when your role flips from being their child or relative, to being their caregiver. Here are some ways to smooth that transition and ease any tension that might exist. Not all of these techniques will work. Everyone is different and has different responses. However, you will never see improvements if you don’t take the first step.

Below you will find tips on how to communicate in the most effective ways.



Please listen to your elders, I mean really listen! It’s important not to interrupt or try to fill in an empty silence. When your body ages and starts moving slower, the mind will as well. Sometimes those empty silences, that we think need to be filled, are actually your parent or loved one choosing their next words or getting their thoughts in order. Communicating isn’t all about you being heard. It’s about both parties communicating their needs effectively. When speaking to your loved one, make sure they are clear on your expectation as well. Keep it simple so mom or dad doesn’t get confused.

Agree to Disagree

No matter how close you are to your family, everyone’s opinions will never be the same all the time. Don’t get frustrated. Respect your loved one’s opinions and just agree to disagree. This will relieve a lot of frustration on the caregiver.  Just because the person you’re caring for insists the sky is purple does not mean you have to always argue that it’s blue. Choose your battles! There are far more important things to focus on. Sometimes elderly patients can be easily frustrated as well. Communicating in a positive manner about another subject can often dismantle their frustration.

Laughter is the best medicine

Laughter can be the best form of communication. Who wants to constantly focus on the negatives of getting older? The person who is getting older, certainly does not want to be reminded of their limitations. Make light of things! Difficult situation will only become more stressful if you are negative. For example, if mom or dad shares a memory that you don’t quite remember the same way, just go with it. If they are happy who cares if the person who fell in the lake was Uncle Bob and not Aunt Jane. Keep your sense of humor. The point is they remember it somewhat and love you enough to share that with you. Share in the enjoyment of that memory.

Pronounce your words

Older adults will not always admit that they cannot hear or understand the conversations going on around them. The higher pitch of a woman’s voice may be a problem. Consciously try to lower your voice. If you’re a low talker, you may want to kick the volume up a notch. Keep sentences short and simple, focusing on one subject at a time. Do not mumble or run words together. Pronounce your words clearly. Often times, investing in a hearing aide can make a world of difference for communicating.

Turn down the volume

If you are trying to have a conversation or instruct mom or day, turn off the television or radio or at least turn down the background noise. Face the person as you talk to them. Do not talk as you’re walking into another room. More than likely, you will not be heard.

If you are talking amongst a group of people, don’t move mom or dad to the outside of the circle. Put them directly in the middle of the room so they can hear whomever is addressing them.

Caregiving results in major changes in the family with the person who needs care and the caregiver. Enjoy the time you have. Do not let communication be a stumbling block. Open the your mind to new ways of communication to help you and your loved one.