First let’s look at body position. Standing over a resident who is sitting or in bed may feel threatening, especially if you are very close. Research has shown that patients thought that their doctors stayed longer at the bedside than they actually did when the doctor sat down. So try sitting down to appear less hurried.
When people have hearing problems, as many older adults do, it is important to face the person directly and have your face at their eye level. The shapes our lips make when speaking and expressions give residents a lot of clues to what we are saying. It should go without saying that we should make sure hearing aides are in place, are turned on, and have fresh batteries.
Next we should speak slowly and clearly, enunciating our words precisely—slow down. Older ears need more time to decipher what you are saying. If you also have an accent, slowing down your speech will help older, hard-of-hearing adults understand you better. It also helps to use gestures to supplement what you are saying. For example, if you want the resident to sit in a chair, pat the chair or sit down to demonstrate what you would like.
By paying attention to the little details in our communications with the elderly, we can make the interchange more satisfactory for them and us!