Communicating with Older People

Communicating with Older People

Communication becomes very important in planning and managing changes when someone is approaching the end of their life. It is important that the older person can talk to their family and friends about their care needs and their preferences and also talk about any personal matters that they wish to review or discuss.

Good communication between the older person and the people providing their care is also important. However, people can find it difficult to talk about dying.

There are a number of strategies that may be helpful:

  • Allow them to introduce the topic. 'How are you feeling about things? Is there anything you want to share with us?'
  • It may be easier to have a number of small conversations rather than one long conversation that tries to deal with many different topics.
  • Acknowledge the difficulty in talking about death and dying. 'I know talking about these things is never easy.'
  • Don't fill the silence. Allow them the time to say what is important.
  • Listen to the other person, and show you are listening, for example by nodding your head.
  • Respect what they are saying. You may want to know what to do about the funeral but they feel it is more important to talk about who will tell their friends.

Helpful resources

Page updated 02 January 2019