Efficient communication is necessary for busy caregivers.
The number of adults in America are providing care for another adult with health needs is almost 20 percent! Around 61% percent of those adults caring for another adult, are also working. (AARP, 2020) From decades in health care working with families, I have seen the added time it takes to provide care for their loved one. Working with patients and families in their homes has allowed me the opportunity to help them develop plans and techniques for saving time. One of those areas was to communicate in a way that minimizes wasted time. It is important to know what you want to accomplish with your communication, and have appropriate techniques and materials that will support your purpose. Many people who need care, will also need reminders to stay consistent, and can be easily overwhelmed by too many details.
Effective communication is vital for the care ‘receivers’.
If our communication is going to make a difference, it has to have an effect, or make a change. It is important to know what change you want to take place, and start small. Information you communicate needs to be clear and concise, and take into account a person’s ability to listen or read, understand, and recall. We can use words, pictures, charts, and lists to communicate effectively with others. Provide verbal and written instructions that can be understood and followed. Use techniques and supplies to improve the results.
Empowering your loved one or patient with positive communication is beneficial for them and for you.
An important part of communication is how your words are expressed, and what type of feelings they evoke. You can express information with many emotions, but commonly in caregiving we use frustration, kindness, or neutrality. When someone is in a position where they need assistance, it is often a place they would not choose to be. To have someone communicate to them with kindness, compassion, and empathy, is not only appropriate, but will often improve their response. As a clinician my goal to help the patient feel cared for and empowered. I attempt to let them have as many choices in the process as they can, and to feel they are guiding their care. I have found I have fewer issues and better results when I use positive and empowering word choices. Here are three concepts (with helpful links) that I have used and have found to be helpful in my caregiving:
1 The Sandwich for trying to encourage a needed behavior. You validate the person, express the action that is needed, and then encourage them with an action step. This could be helpful if you need your loved one to take their medication, eat, or exercise.
2 I/You Statements when trying to express concern. If you are upset with something, begin with “I feel”, instead of “you did”. When you begin with a YOU statement, it puts the person on the defense, and often leads to reduced listening, and greater irritation.
3 The Teachback Technique when trying to assess their understanding. Have your loved one “tell you back” what the clinician instructed them, or what you as the caregiver told them, but in their own words. It allows you to have an idea of how much they understood, what they misunderstood, and how much they remember.
If you are a caregiver for a person with dementia or Alzheimers, this book is an excellent resource for understanding and compassion. (affiliate link)
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Here’s a FREEBIE: A printable log to document daily exercise, nutrition, medication, or whatever activity you want to monitor.
What other information or tips would you give for healthy communication for caregivers? I would love to hear from you! Subscribe to my blog for weekly tips, information and insight into senior care and senior health, and receive a few printable FREEBIES!