Whether your loved one has a hearing impairment, mental illness, or physical ailment that makes it difficult for them to communicate, it is important you find other ways to connect with them. There are some ways to become a better communicator with seniors, but it requires the family members or caregivers to have a great deal of patience and empathy to be successful. Try out these ideas to effectively connect with your elderly parent.

  • Begin with small talk. Before delving into a complicated topic, start with a small one. This could mean discussing the weather, traffic, or what the elder had for breakfast. Beginning with small talk will help break the ice and make the older adult more willing to be a part of a larger conversation.
  • Limit distractions. Many seniors are unable to concentrate for extended periods of time and become easily distracted. To make sure you have their undivided attention, limit all noisy distractions. This includes turning off the TV, phone and radio, as well as closing the door to reduce any outside noise that may distract the elder.
  • Ask simple questions. Sticking with simple “yes or no” questions is the best way to ensure the elder understands the question. Asking something that requires a more complicated answer could lead them to becoming confused. Make the question sweet and short in order for the senior to better comprehend it.
  • Give them time. Once the question has been asked, do not expect an immediate response. Depending on the communication illness that is ailing your loved one, they may need an extra minute or two to absorb the question and think about a suitable answer. Be patient and give them the time they need. If necessary, repeat the exact same question slower to help the elder get a better understanding of it.
  • Choose one topic. Avoid switching from topic to topic, as this may lead to confusion among the older adult. Instead, stick with one topic at a time.
  • Learn to listen. Elders may have a lot on their mind and they want to share it. Learn to listen and ask questions about the topic. This will show your loved one that you are listening and are interested in what they have to say.
  • Give them choices. Your loved one will have an easier time making decisions if they are given options. For example, asking, “Would you like to wear the red or yellow shirt?” is much easier for them to answer instead of, “What would you like to wear today?”

Not only will these tips help you communicate with an elderly loved one, but it will also help you reconnect with that person and become closer than ever.


If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Woodbury, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.