Emma plans to return home from the hospital, but her family is uneasy. To help, they are working with the Right at Home elder care program RightTransitions®. The following are ways families can communicate most effectively with home caregivers.
• Realize you are working toward the same goal. Viewing the caregiver relationship as an active, cohesive partnership will benefit everyone involved in providing excellent compassionate care.
• Show genuine interest in your caregiver. Ask your caregiver how she or he is doing; ask about his or her family and interests and hobbies. Engage in conversational dialogue to build friendly rapport.
• Be clear and specific. Avoid assuming that others understand what you or your loved one wants and needs. If it helps, write down concerns to address and read them to your caregiver.
• Ask questions. Be sure to ask for explanations for any medical terms or treatments that you do not understand. Inquire about the care plan for your loved one and how you can help in the care process.
• Listen actively. When possible, sit down with your caregiver and instead of hurrying with a list of topics to discuss, just pause and ask a question or two. Listen to what your caregiver is really saying in response.
• Collaborate on best care options. Together with your caregiver, walk through treatment progress and next steps for care.
• Practice patience. Watching someone you love work through limitations of age or illness can fray the emotions. Be patient with your loved one, your caregiver and yourself.
• Turn off the mobile phone, television and other distractions and engage in a conversation, not just verbalizing concerns. Whenever it is appropriate, use humor and laughter to relieve tension and enjoy conversing.
No one is perfect at dialogue and listening, so these tips may help. Better caregiving starts with better communication. You and your older loved one deserve both.
What family-caregiver communication tips have worked for you?