If you have an elderly family member living near you, you have the great opportunity to get to know them on a personal level. The stories and insight they can share with you about the world, their experiences and the family you share can be invaluable. However, if you two have difficulty communicating or relating to one another, there can be a lot of strain placed on this relationship. But if you’re willing to learn how you can better interact and communicate with this elderly family member, you could have a great kinship built between you. To help with this, here are three tips that will help you in strengthening your relationships with your elderly family members.
Initiate Eye Contact
Depending on the mental state of your elderly family member, it can often be tempting to direct your questions or replies to their caregiver or another person rather than them directly. However, ElderCareSolutions.com shares that this type of interaction can often cause a rift between you and your elderly family member because he or she may feel like you’re overlooking their abilities. To avoid this pitfall in your relationship, you may want to try initiating eye contact when you’re speaking to each other. Regardless of how much or how little he or she may understand you, the eye contact you give will show that you want to communicate to the best of your ability.
Avoid Sounding Condescending
With many older adults, it may take a moment for them to process what you’ve said and formulate a response even if their mind is otherwise completely alert. Other times, their ability to hear may be compromised, which could also make it difficult to understand and have a fluid conversation. To compensate for this, you may need to speak slower or louder than you’re used to. If this is the case, Marlo Sollitto, a contributor to AgingCare.com, recommends trying your hardest not to sound condescending while attempting to make yourself clear. This can create a hostile situation that won’t make it easy for you to foster a healthy relationship.
Treat Them As You Would An Adult Friend
Although your elderly family member may seem like they have nothing in common with you, if you open your mind, you may realize that you actually share a lot more than you thought. To tap into this way of thinking, Reader’s Digest suggests thinking about them as a friend or acquaintance rather than a family member. By seeing them in this light, you may be more likely to look past any preconceived notions you have regarding your previous relationship with them or how you anticipate your interactions to unfold. You may also show them more kindness and subtle respect if you go into your conversations as you would with someone you’re not super familiar with.
Having a strong or at least healthy relationship with your elderly family members can help you to have a greater appreciation for your heritage as well as help that family member feel loved and cared for. Use the tips mentioned above to begin strengthening your relationships today.