Listening to others is something people often take for granted or think it only involves hearing what the other person is saying. This is not the case. Listening is a true action, requiring effort and focus. Active listening is about engaging with the other person and showing them you care about what they are saying. As a family caregiver, active listening can make a tremendous difference not just to your personal relationship with your senior, but also to the effectiveness of your care efforts for them.
The act of active listening involves many different actions, some of which are non-verbal and demonstrate to your parent that you are interested in what they are saying.
Some non-verbal ways you can practice active listening with your senior include:
- Make eye contact with your senior frequently during the conversation. This shows that you are concentrating on them and what they are saying.
- Smile when appropriate to how you are invested in what they are saying and are happy or interested.
- Lean slightly toward your parent while they are speaking.
- Rest your head on one hand or tilt your head to the side to demonstrate that you are actively engaged in what they are saying and interested in what they have to say.
- Don't demonstrate distraction through activities such as doodling, looking at your phone, fidgeting, or looking away. Avoid checking the clock or your watch while your parent is talking.
Active listening may not be easy at first, but practicing it will make you feel more comfortable and help you use it more easily. This can help you to communicate more openly and effectively with your loved one and create a stronger connection while also giving you the opportunity to improve your efforts and give them the care they need.
You are never alone when you are a family caregiver. This role can feel challenging and even overwhelming at times, but reaching out for help can make this care journey better for you and for your aging loved one. Making elder care a regular part of it can give you the help and support you need to manage your parent's challenges and your care efforts while experiencing less stress, more flexibility and freedom in your schedule, and the ability to handle all aspects of your daily life with greater confidence. An elderly home care services provider can step in to offer fully personalized services specifically designed to manage your parent's health, encourage independence and autonomy, and support a high quality of life as they age in place.