Welcome to Port City Caregivers' Community Hub! We are so glad you stopped by. I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Zoé Hawkins and I recently started working with Port City Home Services as Community Supports Manager. I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this team. I can already see how collaborative, supportive and engaged everyone is in improving the lives of local seniors! That makes what I do so incredibly rewarding.
Every few weeks, I will be posting about various topics relevant to our local seniors and the people (you) who support them. Should you have any questions or suggestions for content, please let me know. We want to hear from you!
With that being said, my post today is about communicating effectively with your loved one as they age. I don’t mean the do’s and don’ts – I mean how to form meaningful conversation and actually feel connected to your husband, wife, mother, father, aunt, etc. So often we are focused on the task at hand – with everything from assisting with bathing to washing the dishes – that we miss the intent and real purpose of lovingly and purposefully caregiving. Of course day-to-day practical tasks are very important, but the value and importance of getting below the surface (so to speak) cannot be mistaken or taken at a whim.
Sometimes it can be challenging to find common ground; maybe you are exhausted from being the sole caregiver, maybe you are dealing with your own life challenges - but every interaction you have with your loved one is an opportunity to truly have a meaningful conversation and make them feel special, valued, and listened to.
So here are some helpful questions I would suggest to create meaningful conversation!:
- What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were twenty? - What are some of the most important lessons you feel you have learned over the course of your life?
- As you look back over your life, do you see “turning points”? Was there a key event or experience that changed the course of your life, or set you on a different track?
- Do you have any advice on how to bounce back after hard times? - What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?
- What are some of the most important choices or decisions you made in your lifetime? - Looking back, are you content with the choices you’ve made? - Some people say that they have learned important lessons from difficult or stressful experiences. Is that true for you? What did you learn?
- What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by?
- What does it take to be happy?
- Throughout your life, did you find the happiness you were looking for?
You can also use the ‘life story’ of your loved one to ask questions and create a dialogue. For example, if you knew your mother used to be a professional dancer and traveled the world, you could ask questions about those experiences! If you found out your husband secretly always wanted to be a pilot, you could ask questions about their passion for flying. These are but a few small examples of showing genuine interest. In my experience, putting your authentic caregiving self forward always leads to a purposeful conversation. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Lastly, communication does not always have to be verbal. Perhaps your loved one is unable to speak and you must find other ways to effectively engage. Using music, objects, touch, movement, body language and eye contact – these are but a few fantastic ways to communicate with non–verbal loved ones.
If you have further questions about how to create a meaningful life for your aging loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or drop into our Central Office at 133 Baker Drive. My door is always open and I’d welcome to chance to meet you!
Stay safe and thank you for being the backbone in our Nova Scotian caregiving community. Without you, your parents, spouses and others would be lost and not able to age in place. Your dedication, passion and empathy is inspirational.