Communicating with a loved one who is unable to use verbal communication can seem incredibly challenging. No matter what is preventing their communication, the fact is that it has changed the way that we deliver information to them and the way that they receive it.
Read more to see how you can communicate with the non-verbal senior in your life:
Touch is quite possibly the most powerful sense of all. As we grow older, we still have a desire for comforting contact. This is especially effective if they are unable to communicate with you in other conventional ways. Individuals living in senior or assisted living communities may not experience regular comforting touches from a spouse or family member which could result in an increase in feelings of anger, aggression, depression, or loneliness. Consider holding their hand, massaging their shoulders, or offering a hug. Research has shown that individuals who are touched regularly could exhibit greater levels of oxytocin.
The human face is extremely expressive and is often the first indication as to how someone is feeling. Even non-verbal seniors are able to convey messages and understand what you are saying based on the emotions you are displaying, and facial expressions are considered to be the most reliable non-verbal source of communication. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same universally, so use facial expressions to display your emotions to enhance the relationship with your loved one.
When speaking with someone who is unable to communicate, be sure that you give them your full attention. When speaking, make consistent eye contact with them at eye-level to ensure you are not intimidating them. Avoid unnecessary confusion by making sure that your body language and expressions match what you are saying. After you finish your thought, allow them time to gather their thoughts even if they are unable to speak. Try observing their non-verbal cues and watch for signs of anger, frustration, or fear, then adjust your responses and actions as needed.
Be Mindful of Personal Space
How we interact with others using personal space can change the way that our message is communicated. When approaching them, approach them from the front to avoid startling them. It may also be a good idea to always get permission before touching or invading their space. The way that you display body movement can also alter their perception so try moving slower so that they are able to understand what you are doing.
Tealwood Senior Living provides a vast array of senior care options focused on the specific needs of the individual. Our unwavering commitment to enrich the lives of those we serve is because we truly believe that the journey matters! Visit our website to discover why our residents love living at Tealwood Senior Living!
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