The Importance of Compassionate Communication in CaregivingJuly 31, 2023
No two days of caregiving look alike. Some days, you and your loved one may not have much to do. On other days, there are errands to run, appointments to attend, and health issues to contest with. Amidst all the varying days, there is one thing that has to remain the same: how you communicate with them. The importance of compassionate communication in caregiving can’t be understated. It can make a good day great and a difficult day easier.
But compassionate communication unfortunately isn’t something we all have an innate understanding of. Especially if you have recently taken on the role of family caregiver, you may have to spend some time learning how to communicate with your loved one in such a delicate way.
What is compassionate communication?
Compassionate individuals are able to empathize with someone who is currently going through something difficult. Compassion is one of the cornerstones of being a good caregiver. Being able to communicate compassionately takes that to the next level.
Showing compassion to your loved one can be broken down into three key factors: awareness, speaking with clarity, and listening with openness and attention. If you consciously maintain these elements as you speak with your loved one, you will notice more effective communication. This not only benefits your loved one’s overall well-being, but the care you are able to provide.
Awareness in communication
When you are talking with your loved one about their needs, it is important you don’t just “go through the motions.” As a caregiver, be aware of your role, and how it may impact both you and your loved one. This may inform how you speak to your loved one—for instance, a child caring for their parent may have a slightly different dialogue than a professional caregiver would.
Speak with clarity
This does not just refer to speaking with proper diction—although this is important to practice too, especially as seniors grow hard of hearing. Speaking with clarity refers to being clear with your loved one as you communicate. Don’t leave room for them to interpret your words. Instead, be open with them about what is happening, and how it makes you feel.
Listening with openness and attention
For some individuals, the listening part of communication is one of the hardest parts. As we speak with others, we are often thinking about how we are going to respond. This may sound like listening, but what it really is, is waiting. This can lead us to not listen as closely as we should have been and potentially misinterpret what was said.
Active listening is a tactic many people in caregiving positions use to ensure they know exactly what is happening. To practice active listening, you start your response with something along the lines of “What I heard you say is…” and end it with “…is that right?” This is especially beneficial in moments where tensions are high, as it helps seniors feel more clearly heard. Those experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s, in particular, see much benefit from this style of communication.
Be paid for the support you already provide
As an at-home caregiver, you know just how difficult it can be to juggle all the responsibilities of care. This is twice as hard when you also have your own family to manage and a career to maintain. Thankfully, in the state of Illinois, there is something you can do to make this a little easier. The IDoA’s Community Care Program gives family caregivers the ability to receive compensation for the care they provide by training with a home care agency.
Home Care Powered by AUAF is proud to be one of the agencies that can offer you and your loved one support. For 30 years, our staff has offered seniors the assistance they need to age in place, and we would be happy to offer your family that same peace of mind. For more information on how you can become a caregiver with us, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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