Tips for Including Older Loved Ones in Holiday Conversations
It’s a special time of year! Friends and family are gathering together to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the holidays. During this season, it can be especially important for seniors to reminisce and spend time with their loved ones. However, sometimes younger family members aren’t quite sure how to talk to older people, while the senior members of the family struggle with feeling left out. Communicating with older adults can be less of a challenge once there is an understanding of what causes this divide, and by utilizing communication tactics to overcome it.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Imagine sitting at the holiday dinner table and feeling that the conversation is going on around you instead of including you. As a senior it can feel as if, despite your years of wisdom and experience, you’ve been relegated to “kid’s table” status again! Dementia and other serious neurological problems are not always what is causing the communication divide. In fact, this “communications divide” can often stem from very manageable places – be careful about making assumptions regarding communication root causes until you’ve explored these ideas.
Be Mindful of Hearing Loss
University of Cincinnati research points out that natural sensory losses that come with aging, like the inability to hear high tones or declining vision, can make it more difficult to follow a conversation. Fortunately as loved ones, these are problems we can solve easily by assisting our seniors with hearing aids, glasses, or simply using slightly slower and louder speech patterns around them. Relatively minor limitations don’t have to stop everyone from being involved in those holiday conversations. Something to consider here: If it’s a large family gathering, with lots of people talking at once, there may be a bit of a sensory overload- especially if Grandmom isn’t used to being around a lot of people at the same time. Keep that in mind when determining if your elderly loved one might have hearing loss.
Offer Choices and Recognize Their Independence
The physical limitations that come with aging may mean that seniors need assistance more than they did in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they also need your support mentally. It’s an important consideration to make when communicating with the older adults in your life. Psychology Today notes that providing choices to elderly loved ones (“Would you like water or tea, Grandmom?”) acknowledges their independence more than a direct order (“Drink this water, Grandmom.”). Remember to use those “I” statements that are critical to all relationships. When communicating with older adults, “I” statements can foster positive feelings by reinforcing that the senior adult is recognized as an equal partner in the conversation. These small interactions set the tone for other communications later on.
Ask Open-Ended Questions, Listen, & Follow Up
When it comes to facilitating conversations with elders, be sure to use some of those techniques you learned in English class. Find a starting point, ask about holidays past for instance, and then ask open-ended questions that will elicit more than a yes or no response. Next, follow up on responses with who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Conversations become more complex and engaging that way, not to mention they require listening on both sides, so seniors will know that they are being heard and talked to as opposed to talked at. Concerns about how to talk to seniors this holiday can be lessened now and all year round by remembering that how you say something is just as important as what you say!
If you’d like more information on better communication skills with your elderly loved ones, reach out to your local Assisted Living Locators Care Advisor today!
Considering a move to an assisted living community but need some help making up your mind? Reach out to your local senior care advisor for help!
5 Winter Activities for Seniors
The winter months can present unique challenges to seniors. From poor weather conditions that may aggravate medical conditions or prevent seniors from spending much time outside to potential dangers created by having to walk or drive in wet or icy weather, winter often means taking a different approach to daily life for seniors.
If you or your loved one are a senior who is trying to cope with the winter months, we want to provide you with a list of safe and fun activities that can make these times a little more bearable.
Because poor weather can make it dangerous to go outside for a walk or for a breath of fresh air, indoor exercises can be a healthy and safer alternative. These include chair exercises, using a treadmill, hand strength and coordination activities, low-impact games on Wii, and gentle stretching. You can determine what’s safe for you, speak with a doctor about exercise suggestions.
There are numerous games that provide an excellent opportunity for fun and leisure indoors, as well as mental stimulation that becomes increasingly important as we age. Play your favorite board game, solve a jigsaw puzzle, attend a Bingo event, or even use a Wii to play electronic puzzle and math games. These fun activities can help keep the mind sharp and defend against seasonal and wintertime depression that affects people of all ages.
Learn a skill or hobby
With additional time indoors, seniors may find that they can use their time productively to learn a new craft or skill, such as knitting, crocheting, playing an instrument, cooking, or woodworking by reading a How-To book, learning online, or watching an instructional video. Seniors may also choose to take classes that can teach them new skills, encourage social interaction, and offer an opportunity to get outside the house, or invite others over to enjoy a hobby together or to teach the skill itself.
Reading is a great activity any time of year, but it can be especially enjoyable when you cozy up with a good book or magazine during winter months. Seniors can also join a local book club, which can provide more interaction with friends and the opportunity to discuss what they have read.
Spend time with friends
Spending time with friends and family can help pass the time and open up the world for a senior who may spend a lot of time at home. Inviting friends over for a weekly or even monthly event night can be a great way to catch up and enjoy a game or hobby as a group. Seniors may also hold book clubs or classes in their own home, where they can share their thoughts and skills with others.
The winter months can be tough for everyone, not just seniors. By being creative and making the effort to use time indoors productively and enjoyably, seniors and anyone else who may be homebound can fend off boredom, improve their physical and mental health, and have fun.
Contact your local care advisor at Assisted Living Locators if you have questions about these ideas or how we can be of assistance, contact us today.
For more information on how to prepare your family and your elderly loved ones for the holidays, please reach out to your local Assisted Living Locators senior care advisor today!
While journaling is enjoyed by people of all ages, it can be a particularly beneficial activity for seniors. Regardless of what subjects are addressed, or even the quality of writing, journaling can contribute significantly to mental and emotional health.
The good news is that it’s not difficult to get started with this activity. All you or your loved one need are a notebook, writing utensils, and dedication to jotting down at least a few sentences on a regular basis.