For me, we’re a family. Meadowlark Hills is home.
April 1, 2021
As people age, many become less mobile. They may drive less or not get around as much. This can be isolating, possibly making even casual interactions very meaningful. As you talk with older adults in your faith community, here are some helpful tips.
Although many older adults have very vibrant and fulfilling later years, there are some common concerns you might encounter such as memory loss, depression and more. It’s important to be open and neutral. If you’re uncomfortable talking about a topic, they will sense that and may close off from a conversation.
It’s normal to go into “fix it” mode, but this can leave older adults feeling like they don’t have control over their situation. If they’re struggling with a particular issue, you can provide support while letting them steer the conversation. For example, ask if there’s something on their mind they’d like to talk about, if they’d like to pray together or if there’s something else you can do that would be comforting.
“The best advice I could give is to really be there to listen. Some of what they’re experiencing is loneliness and depression. Having someone to talk to is a huge resource in itself. Hear them out and dig deep into what concerns they have.”
Kristen Martin, Care Transition Leader, Meadowlark
We all have different personalities and interests. Older adults are no exception. Let go of any stereotypes of senior citizens and get to know older adults as individuals.
Asking questions is a great way to connect. For older adults who may have issues with memory, asking about events further back in their past can be more useful than asking about recent events. For example, asking, “What did you do for a living?” might spark a more engaged conversation than, “Did you have a good morning?”
Here are some questions and topics to get the ball rolling:
Follow up. Once you learn some things about the person, bring them up in future conversations to strengthen your connection.
“Don’t make assumptions about what their interests might be. They might surprise you. Their interests might be wide and varied. Anything you would ask someone in their 20s, you can ask in their 80s. Older adults have had amazing experiences and are happy to tell you about those.” Becky Fitzgerald, Development Director, Meadowlark Foundation
2121 Meadowlark Road
Manhattan, KS 66502
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