Identifying Communication Problems
Lack of proper communication is one of the biggest hurdles in elderly care. It can lead to frustration in both the elder person and their caregiver. There are several reasons why communication becomes less effective with older people, but most of them are due to their reduced hearing capacity or inability to express their thoughts clearly. Since communication involves a clear exchange of information involving two parties, a gap exists when one of either party fail to function.
Reduced communication skills are one of the results of aging, which is something that is beyond your control. However, your ability to identify the source of the problem will consequently determine the steps you need to take in order to resolve them. Solutions can be as simple as finding alternative means to communicate outside of verbal signals, or as intricate as medical treatment.
Cause of Communication Problems
There are various reasons why aging people lose their ability to communicate properly. Here are some of the most common reasons for them:
- Failing hearing ñ When people age, they undergo anatomical changes. Reduced hearing capacity is a natural effect involved with the natural aging process. When an elder lacks proper hearing capacity, they do not recognize when someone is talking nor understand clearly the information being relayed. There are hearing aids available nowadays to produce a sharper sense of hearing for older people.
- Vision problems or failing eyesight ñ Another natural effect of again is failing eyesight. Therefore, an older person has difficulty reading written communication. The effects of failing eyesight can be reduced through using alternative communication devices such as eyeglasses.
- Effect of medications ñ This cause for communication problems is reversible. Taking medicines often produces adverse effects on the elders such that they become easily fatigued or confused. Therefore, they find it difficult to understand communicative patterns.
- Structural or neurological damage ñ This condition is often caused by other diseases such as brain lesions, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or strokes. Most of these conditions produce permanent results, there are a few coping mechanisms and strategies provided for the patient so that they are able to communicate effectively.
Dealing with Proper Communication
If you are faced with communication problems involved in caring for the elderly, then it is important to figure out the proper method of dealing with such communication lapses. Below are a few principles you can apply:
ïUnderstand the two-way process of communication. Effective communication involves a clear exchange of information between the speaker and hearer, therefore both have to cooperate in seeing results. It is both an individual’s responsibility, not just one.
Make some communication adjustments. When you notice that problems exist or that you are not communicating properly, take action. Adjust your communication pattern by first identifying where the source of the problem is.
Non-Verbal Communication and Aids
Once you have determined the source of the communication problem, you can minimize their effects by enlisting the help of some devices and aids designed specifically to cater to better communication. Here are a few you can try if you’re having problems communicating when caring for an elderly:
- Eyeglasses and hearing aids: It is recommended for elders who are suffering from failing hearing and eyesight.
- Using writings or pictures instead of spoken communication: Doing this will help prevent create frustration on both parties since the elderly person will be able to comprehend what you are trying to communicate without having to repeat yourself.
When To Get Help?
If you have done all the procedures indicated above and you are still having communication problems with elderly care, then it might be time to seek professional help. Asking for professional help must be done during the following circumstances:
- When an elderly person has difficulty speaking, understanding, or communicating as a whole.
- When an elderly person exhibits an unusual sound of the voice that is neither caused by cold nor flu.
- When their speech becomes incomprehensible.
- When they fail to respond clearly.