1. Have you tried to have a dialogue with someone who didn’t want to hear what you had to say?
2. Have you ever had to discuss a topic but didn’t seem to make any headway?
3. Are you trying to figure out how to communicate successfully with an aging loved one?
4. And even more important, how do we talk with an aging parent or other senior who may be experiencing dementia?
It’s certain that many books have been written on the subject, but there is one that I would like to focus on with this article. Previously, I posted an article entitled: The “Give-Up Program.” Dr. Nanette Davis describes this program very succinctly in her book: The ABCs of Caregiving: Words to Inspire You. If you haven’t read the article, please take a few minutes to do so when you have the opportunity.
I highly recommend the ABCs of Caregiving to you. It reads easily since the topics are organized in alphabetical order. I really think you will not only like the book but find it very informative and encouraging. In this particular section of the book, the topic falls under S for ‘Supportive Communication,’ where the author describes a strategy to get rid of the unworkable dialogues with your loved one. Dr. Davis calls this the “Never-Never List.” (I just love that title.) So whether you are currently a caregiver, or a “caregiver-to-be, consider the following “Nevers:”
1. Never argue, always agree.
2. Never reason, always divert.
3. Never shame, instead distract.
4. Never lecture, instead reassure.
5. Never say, “Remember,” instead reminisce.
6. Never say “I told you so,” instead, repeat yourself, regroup and reframe.
7. Never say, “I can’t; instead say, “Let’s do this.”
8. Never command or demand, instead ask or model.
9. Never condescend, instead encourage and praise.
10. Never force, instead reinforce.
11. Never criticize, always compliment.
12. Never judge, be on the lookout for behavioral changes.
13. Never fake it, endeavor to sound sincere.
14. Never compare with the past, stay in the present.
I’m pretty sure that I messed up a few times with this List when I talked with my aging parents. I know that I often asked the “remember when?” questions instead of just talking about the past. On another topic, I do recall when it was more difficult to get Mom into the car; then into her wheelchair so we could go shopping in the Mall or go to lunch; but rather than saying we can’t do that, I said we were going to go for a drive and get a “take out lunch” to eat in the car. (Wow, I think I did that one right). We had fun having our “picnics in the park.”
I hope you find Dr. Davis’ “Never-Never List” to help you have workable and memorable dialogues with your aging loved ones.
“One of these days is none of these days.” English Proverb