How to Communicate Effectively with the Elderly

by | Jun 18, 2021

It can be difficult to know how to effectively communicate with your elderly loved one.

Communicating often becomes an issue with age. Many elderly people become hindered by the aging process, with sensory loss, memory decline, lessening of power and being unable to process information easily. This can often cause them to struggle with communication with friends, family and carers.

Engaging in productive conversation is incredibly beneficial for both them and yourself.

That is why it is important to make a conscious effort to adapt your communication skills to accommodate those of the elderly.

Here are our helpful tips for communicating effectively with the elderly.


1.      Dedicate the time to talk.

We often make time in our lives to meet up with friends and family, where we update one and other, discuss relevant topics and reminisce on good times. This time we set aside for such social events to help us feel involved, socialised and cared about.

That is why it is important to set aside time for your elderly loved ones. Setting up get-togethers not only gives them something to look forward to but, will also help them feel sociable.

Be sure to dedicate plenty of time, remove all distractions and plan ahead. Pick interesting topics they may like to discuss, this will help ease the conversation.

Time spent with your loved ones is always time well spent.


2.      Listen and feedback conversation.

Listening always works both ways. Effective discussion only happens when all those involved are contributing and feeding back well. It is always lovely to talk but you should always make room for others to chime in.

There may be moments where they may be taking some time to pause, give them plenty of time as they could be contemplating a response.

The conversation should feel fluid, if your elderly loved one seems quiet and unsure, try changing the subject. Use questions, verbal prompts and involvement tactics to encourage participation.


3.      Have a patient approach.

It can be difficult to understand why communication has become complicated for your loved one. The problem is that many of the elderly will struggle to process the conversation and social situations. It is something that comes with age and illness however, this is not to say that they cannot communicate at all.

Speaking clearly, slowly and simply where necessary is key but, be careful to not come across as patronising.

Don’t be afraid of starting a more complex conversation as encouraging thought and debate is an incredibly healthy way to communicate.

If small talk feels more appropriate than in-depth conversation, that will be more than fine too.


4.      Enjoy the conversation.

Of course, like most social situations it is important to both enjoy the conversation.

Share good memories, laugh at jokes and celebrate the small things that make you happy. Laughter is the best medicine and will often ease conversation.

If you are visiting your loved one, why not bring a friend, pictures or a pet – these are brilliant at driving not only conversation but further interaction.


We at Sydenham House, care for our residents and always prioritise the social aspect of their lives. We focus on making our residents feel comfortable and involved. With plenty of social spaces, events and activities in place, you can be assured that your loved one will be happy under our care.

Should you have any questions or queries, please contact us today to see how we can help.