Communicating with an aging parent who cannot speak

Learn about non-verbal ways to communicate. published an article discussing the difficulties of communicating with an aging parent who cannot speak. This painful situation presents new challenges. The article says that,

“Many of us are coping with elders who can no longer communicate. Whether from a stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or for some other reason, they have lost their ability to talk or seemingly respond in any manner to their loved one’s efforts to communicate.

Caregivers want to communicate with them, but when they visit their elder and see them in this non-responsive mode, they tend to sit there uncomfortably watching the clock – putting in time, so to speak.”

If you find yourself in this situation, remember that,

“We need to remember that someone who cannot talk is very vulnerable. She can’t say what feels good or what she doesn’t like.”

The article offers these practical suggestions for communicating with an aging parent who cannot speak:

“If you are using touch as a means to communicate, you need to be very tuned in to body language. The same goes for providing communication through hearing. Many times the two are connected. Watch the person’s body language carefully to see what you should continue, or what you should change.

If you are providing any type of hands-on care for a person in this condition, speak soothingly and continuously, about what you are doing. Say things like, “I’m going to rub lotion on your arm now. Does that feel good?” or “I’m going to brush your hair now. It will really look nice.”

Listening to music, if it’s the kind your elder likes, can be healing and powerful.

Some people enjoy being read to. You could find your dad’s favorite books and read chapter by chapter, depending on his level of enjoyment. If he loves the Bible, you could read his favorite verses. Whether or not he comprehends isn’t all that important. Does he seem content? Maybe the sound of your voice is all that matters.”

Read the full article here.

The goal for communicating with an aging parent who cannot speak is to provide an atmosphere of contentment. Look for ways other than speaking to connect with your aging parent who cannot speak. Finding ways to soothe and relax them can be meaningful times of communication.

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