How to Have a Conversation With an Elderly Person

It may sound silly, but sometimes trying to have a conversation with an elderly person is a little intimidating! What do you talk about with them? How do you carry the conversation? The good news is that we're here to help!

Steps

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    Introduce yourself. If you don't already know the elderly person, introduce yourself. Make sure to speak loudly and clearly, because some elderly people have trouble hearing. This doesn't mean screaming at them, however!
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    See if they'll talk to you first. Give the elderly person a few minutes to ask you some questions or say something to you. If they don't make the first move, then it's up to you!
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    Ask about their family. Do they have children? Grandkids? Great-grandchildren? Most elderly people are really passionate about their family, and they can go on FOREVER about their kids/grandkids/great-grandkids. They may go on and on about them, but always make sure to listen and pay attention to them. This shows respect.
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    Ask where they're from. If they don't have any family or the conversation didn't last very long, ask them where they're from. Sometimes you can get a really good story out of it!
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    If you know the area where they come from, talk about that! If they live(d) in Toronto, for example, and you went there on summer vacation last year, tell them how beautiful it is.
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    Talk a little about yourself, too! Especially if the elderly person doesn't talk much, after they reply to one of your questions, keep the conversation going by saying something like "I have a niece that's the same age as your great-granddaughter..." and continue the conversation from there.
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    As you get to know more about them, use that to your advantage! If the senior says something like, "I'm not very artistic; I'm better with words." Ask them if they write stories/poetry. If they say "I've always wanted a dog." Talk about dogs with them. Ask them what kind of dog they want.
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    If all else fails, compliment them on their jewelry, their shirt, etc.

Tips

  • Just like you, sometimes elderly people may be quiet and shy at the beginning, but after they get to know you a bit, they might open up a bit more and talk to you more openly. Be patient with them.
  • Some seniors will give you one word answers. For example, if you ask, "Do you have any grandchildren?" The elderly person might reply "Yes," and stop talking. Try to coax more words out of them by saying something like "How many?". If the senior gives you another one-word answer, talk about yourself for a little bit to fill the gap.
  • Some seniors just feel more comfortable being quiet. If this is so, don't Try to force them to talk to you.

Warnings

  • Never ask a senior how old they are! This shows a huge lack of respect and it may really annoy the elderly person. If they want you to know how old they are, they'll tell you.

Article Info

Categories: Aged Care