The entire baby boomer generation will be over age 65 in about 12 years!
That means that for the first time in U.S. history, our older population is expected to outnumber that of children!
By 2030, at least one out of five adults will be of retirement age.
So how does that affect our society?
For one thing, everyone that’s NOT included in that demographic may need a better understanding of aging adults and the best ways to interact with them (us). Communication becomes more complicated with loss of hearing or vision, a decline in memory and slower mental processing, but the following are some tips that might be of help when communicating with older adults:
- Articulate a bit slower, distinctly and slightly louder. Since it’s common for aging adults to suffer hearing loss, shorter, simple sentences are helpful. Speak a little louder, using a gentle voice without shouting, if they’re straining to hear or understand.
- Background noise is a problem. Restaurants can be a problem when there are loud conversations at other tables or if the music is too loud. At home, TV or radio programs create background noise, making it a challenge for seniors to hear clearly. Attempt to sit or stand at their same level when talking with an older person so he or she can read your face and non-verbal language.
- Add humor when possible. Laughter and smiles encourage rapport and create comfort with older adults. Keep a good joke handy!
- Listen without interrupting. Be patient when an older adult speaks slowly or pauses for a moment. Get comfortable when someone is mentally searching for a specific name or memory. It’s not necessary to fill in the silence.
- Allow older adults to talk about their history. Sharing stories can help someone feel more valuable. Allow the senior to share wisdom and skills. Asking questions about details will show your sincere interest.
Keep mind that aging adults have lived most of their lives in a completely different cultural experience. Be respectful and courteous. Put away electronic devices during your visit and don’t forget to use your manners!
The vast and varied shared experiences of our older loved ones are invaluable and worth any extra effort required to communicate!
Aging adults grew up before cell phones, call-waiting, internet, fax machines, microwave ovens, colored televisions, and maybe even the black and white versions!
I like talking to my grandchildren about growing up without plastics! In fact, last year I started using paper bags in my garbage bins as we used to do. I don’t like buying plastic garbage bags, just to throw them out and add to our problem of plastic waste.
What’s a good story YOU can share?
Fill in the blanks!
I remember when I used to __________
I remember when we didn’t have __________
I wish we still had __________