Active listening can be one of the most important and effective skills you can have as a family caregiver. Through active listening you show your senior that you are engaged in what they are saying, care about them and their needs, and want to improve your efforts for them.
There are many non-verbals ways you can show active listening with your senior, but verbal cues are also extremely important to showing your connection to your parent and what they are saying.
This helps them feel validated and heard, which is important to mental and emotional health, and also encourages them to communicate openly and express themselves and their needs so you can address them effectively.
Some verbals ways you can show active listening with your senior include:
- Occasionally use positive reinforcement throughout the conversation, such as “yes” or “I agree”. Do not use this too much as it will distract the conversation or make it seem like you are trying too hard.
- Express that you are retaining details about what is being said to you. Occasionally repeating key points of the conversation lets your parent know you are putting the effort into retaining what they are saying to you. This shows that you think what they are saying is important and that you are going to strive to use the information. This is particularly important if they are expressing thoughts and wishes regarding their care and life as they age.
- While you should give your senior plenty of time and space to talk and communicate, you shouldn’t just sit silently. This is uncomfortable and makes it seem like you are not really interested in what they are saying. Ask questions throughout the conversation to find out more information, encourage your parent to open up more, and show that you are actively interested in what is being expressed.
- Occasionally clarify what has been said so you know you fully understand what has been said.
Elder care can be a fantastic way to help your parent live their highest quality of life as they age in place. As their family caregiver, your primary focus is to help your parent manage their health, safety, and personal needs while maintaining as much independence as possible throughout their later years.
Making an elder care services provider a part of those efforts diversifies your parent’s care, supports their well-being, and also helps you to experience less stress. This allows your parent to live the life that is right for them through services including companionship that stimulates their mind, reduces feelings of depression and isolation, and more.