Just like you, the elderly have feelings. Each word you say, your tone of voice and the things you talk about matter to them. We need to be gentle and patient when communicating with seniors, especially for those suffering from varying degrees of sensory loss or dementia.
Our seniors have sacrificed much to build our nation and society. As they age and grow weaker, let’s do our best to continue engaging them and accord them the respect and dignity they deserve.
Here are five tips on how you can start communicating meaningfully with seniors:
- Speak slowly, clearly and loudly
As we age, our senses (hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch) become less sharp, and this can make it harder for us to notice details. When talking to seniors, speak louder, if necessary, but do not shout. Speak clearly and slowly. Focus on one idea at a time, and keep sentences short and simple.
- Sit face-to-face with the elderly
As some seniors may experience vision and hearing loss, reading your lips may help them to understand what you are saying. Sitting in front of them may also reduce distractions for them. If a senior is a wheelchair user, sit instead of stand to maintain better eye contact.
- Be a listener
Avoid talking too fast or sharing too much information. Pause and listen. The elderly may need time to process the details and may not be familiar with the topic. Let them lead the conversation by listening to what they want to talk about. A brief pause could mean the elderly is thinking of a response.
- Find things to do together
Strengthen the bond between you and your elderly family member by spending time with them. To break the ice, you could play games, cook a meal together, share family photos, learn a dialect or teach them how to use a smart phone. Do something fun and engaging. Inject some joy in their lives and let them know that they matter!
- Accompany them for outings or medical appointments
Your presence is invaluable especially during times when they need you most. Many seniors, especially those with mobility constraints, tend to feel stressed going for medical appointments. Be intentional in reassuring them and making time to accompany them for such visits.
We can do our part to enrich the lives of our seniors. If you have a passion to serve our seniors, click here to volunteer with us.
TOUCH Senior Activity Centre (TSAC) aims to function as a community activation node, where seniors come together to stay active and healthy, be socially connected, learn new skills and contribute as volunteers. TSAC at Geylang Bahru was first set up in 1998 followed by two centres in Yishun in 2017 and Wellington in 2018. Those aged 60 above and living in the neighbourhood can take part in a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities organised for them. To empower seniors and equip them as resources in the community, the Seniors Caring for Seniors Programme was launched to encourage members to care for one another to age well in community. Besides social and recreational activities, TSAC helps seniors enjoy a better quality of life through the Frailty Management programme - using creative approaches and tapping on community resources - to keep seniors fit, active and mentally alert to reduce falls risk and dementia. TSAC at Geylang Bahru also extends help to seniors who have become frail and homebound through Care Close to Home. Each year, TSAC serves some 1,000 seniors.