Below are some helpful hints to apply when visiting a frail senior who is home bound or living in a nursing home.
To you, the visit may be something that you must fit into your busy day. To the senior, with little outside stimulation, the visit is possibly something they look forward to all week. Even if it is only a fifteen minute visit, try to make it a quality visit. Turn off your cell phone, shut out the world outside, give the senior your full attention and be prepared to listen attentively.
Set the stage. Pull up a chair so that you are close and at eye level with your senior. Ask open-ended questions to get them to talk, such as, what do you think about ……?, what is new and different around here? Seniors are often talked to but not listened to. This may make them feel that they are not important or have little value. Validate them by listening and giving them your full attention.
A technique which can help communications is to look into the other person’s eyes when you are talking to them and to look at their mouth when they are talking.
Run out of conversational topics? Trying to keep the conversation going when there is nothing more to say can be exhausting for both parties. Just be honest and say, that is all the news I have for now, why don’t we just sit quietly together. If possible, make physical contact. Perhaps, hold the senior’s hand. Quiet togetherness can be a very satisfying experience and can build meaningful memories. Talking is not the only form of Communication.