It’s not much of an overstatement to say that communication is the linchpin around which caregiving revolves, and as almost any in-home care professional can tell you, nothing much gets done in the household between a caregiver and a senior without there being at least some basis for communication. In Marysville and elsewhere in this country, being able to relate your wishes and desires to a senior person under your care, is the most important part of establishing a relationship between the two parties, so that caregiving can be as effective as possible. It’s fair to say that communication is indeed the key to great caregiving.
One of the most important skills that a caregiver can cultivate is the art of listening well. Speaking and expressing yourself is easy enough, and most people are able to convey their thoughts to someone else in a clear and concise manner. But listening, although seemingly much simpler, is actually a much more difficult skill to master, and far fewer caregivers have actually become expert listeners. It’s only when you can be silent and consider carefully what a senior is trying to tell you that you begin to become a good listener. If you’re just being quiet while they talk, and you’re already considering your response – that’s not really listening. You’re not hearing and processing what the senior person is trying to get across to you if you’re thinking of your own answer.
Talking also involves more than just responding to a senior. As a caregiver, you need to be careful about how you talk to people under your charge because the way that you talk to them will have a big impression. For instance, if you yell or scream at a senior, that will most likely have a very negative effect and will make them feel bad, but if you convey your thoughts in a mild and soothing tone, you will get a much better reaction from them, and avoid hurting their feelings.
The worst thing that a caregiver could do in the way of communicating with elderly patients is to get into frequent arguments with them. This is extremely counter-productive, and will almost never produce any positive results, so it should be avoided altogether. You won’t really change the thinking of a senior person by arguing with them, and you will rarely change their opinion about something, so the only real effect of arguing is that it produces hard feelings between patient and caregiver. And that will make it harder to get anything accomplished in the household since the two parties will often want to avoid each other, and to avoid any further confrontation.
Positive benefits of good communication
When there is good communication between a caregiver and elderly persons being monitored in a home setting, a number of positive benefits can be derived. First of all, there will generally be much less stress between members of the household, especially between the caregiver and the patient. With less stress between occupants, a great deal more can be accomplished, and it will be much easier to provide care for the senior, as opposed to a situation where things are constantly strained, and both parties tend to shun each other, or at least feel awkward.
When there is good communication between patient and caregiver, each will have an understanding of what the other is going through. The senior will realize that the actions of the caregiver are motivated by a genuine desire to provide the kind of care needed by the senior, e.g. personal hygiene, dressing, bathing, meal preparation, exercise, stimulating mental activities, transportation, and anything else which will contribute to the well-being and the quality of life of the senior.
On the other hand, the caregiver who has good communication with the individuals under their care will understand the feelings and the motivation of the elderly persons being cared for. Here’s where listening comes into play in a major way, because truly listening closely to what a senior is saying can make a world of difference in how you react to that person, and how your care is delivered. Then too, when a caregiver takes the time to accurately relate what must be done every day, both in the household and in the way of care for the senior, then the household has a better chance of being run smoothly, with harmony being the order of the day.
How to establish good communications
In addition to practicing your listening skills while caregiving, there are a few other ways that good communications can be established between yourself and your patients. You can have regular sessions for instance, in which you share your concerns in a very frank and open manner, with nothing held back. This can remove a lot of the day-to-day tensions which might build up, and it can go a long way toward establishing an understanding between individuals.
In situations where a senior may not be able to orally communicate their wishes and desires effectively, a caregiver can be much more alert to any visual cues provided by the senior. Sometimes a nod of the head will have extra meaning, or eyes facing a specific direction. Any kind of physical clues offered by the impaired senior should be paid careful attention and recognized for what they are – a valid attempt at communication. In fact, any way that a senior uses to try and communicate should be recognized and understood.
When both parties make a legitimate effort to understand the other, communications can be established effectively. And when that happens, the whole caregiving process becomes much smoother and much simpler.