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Listening Skills

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One of the hardest lessons family members need to learn is that, regardless of the infirmity, many seniors and invalids are still mentally aware, even if their condition limits their ability to express themselves. Elderly or ill patients may have full cognitive abilities; ?yet, due to neurological illness, struggle with speech, and may be in such pain that communicating is difficult. Family members may not always recognize or understand the problem, and both patient and family will feel frustrated when trying to communicate, much less treat the problem. Patients can get annoyed when their caregiver assumes they know how the patient feels.

Poor communication – and lack of knowledge and sensitivity can lead to misunderstandings. Nothing irritates a patient more than when the caregiver doesn?t seem to listen. An invalid adult is still an adult, and the tendency of some family caregivers to treat them like children, can make care giving – and care receiving – difficult and frustrating for both.

Listening is an integral part of care giving. There are three basic steps to active listening:
1. Hearing means listening. Let the patient express their problem or feelings – avoid finishing their sentences or get impatient even if they seem to ramble. It may be hard? for them to express their feelings.

2. Understanding happens when you are able to grasp the unsaid meaning. They are often talking because they may need something, or are afraid or anxious.Take the time to listen. You might get some clues.

3. Evaluating comes after you are sure you understand what the speaker said; and why they said it. They may just want some companionship, or they may have a need, or a fear that they are reluctant or afraid to express directly.

Professional Home Care Nurses and Caregivers are trained to not only treat illnesses, but to listen and evaluate what their patients say and how they express their needs and feelings.

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