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Improving Your Communication with Older Adults If you are currently in school and looking to study gerontology, then that is very exciting. Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological, and biological aspects of aging. Many people confuse gerontology with geriatrics. But geriatrics is the specific study of diseases in older adults, so you can see how these two fields differ. Gerontology is currently a rapidly growing field. Many people who study gerontology in school go on to become nurses, nurse’s assistants, hospice workers, and a wide variety of other jobs and professions.

Be Patient Many people who think they want to go into gerontology start to reconsider when they start interacting with older people. Interacting with older people can indeed be difficult. They oftentimes don’t respond as quickly or clearly as would a younger person. Sometimes older people experience dementia, and they repeat certain phrases over and over. If you want to study gerontology, there are several things you should learn about how to communicate with older people. One thing that is very important is that you have to give older people a lot more time to understand what you’re saying than younger people. Older people sometimes feel left out because they cannot understand information as quickly as younger people. So when you are communicating with older people, try to talk slowly and give them time to understand before you continue speaking. They want to understand you, so make sure that you can be understood in a way that works for them. There are several ways that you can make sure that they can understand you.


Be Attentive Make sure that you are talking slowly enough so that they can hear what you’re saying and understand the meaning of what you’re saying. Another great way to effectively communicate with older people is to avoid distractions. If you are on your phone or computer and trying to talk to an older person, they may not feel like you are spending quality time with them. If you try to spend the first minute you are with them really focusing on what they are saying, then they will most likely be able to tell that you are interested in them and they will trust you. Another great way to communicate with an older adult is to sit face-to-face across from them. Many people are afraid of doing this because they think that maybe it will be awkward for them or for the older person. Another thing that many people think is awkward is eye contact. But if you maintain eye contact throughout a conversation, that really helps the person to know that you are interested in them and you are actively listening to them. Using short and simple words and sentences can also increase the likelihood that the person you are talking to will understand you. As you continue in your studies of gerontology, you will most likely learn even more tips that will help you communicate with the elderly. Working with the elderly can be very rewarding. As you study gerontology, remember that you will be helping a lot of people once you graduate from school. Photo Credit: louisa_catlover, Paolo Margari, & Dyvo via PhotoPin cc


Improving Your Communication With Older Adults