Poor communication with this vulnerable and growing population can undermine your efforts to provide good patient care. Many of the following tips can be applied to patients of all age groups; however, they are particularly important with older adults, for whom less-than-optimal communication may have more negative consequences:
1. Allow extra time.
2. Minimize visual and auditory distractions.
3. Sit face to face with the patient.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact.
5. Listen without interrupting.
6. Speak slowly, clearly, and loudly.
7. Use short, simple words and sentences.
8. Stick to one topic at a time.
9. Simplify and write down your instructions.
10. Use charts, models, and pictures to illustrate your message.
11. Frequently summarize the most important points.
12. Give the patient a chance to ask questions.
13. Schedule older patients earlier in the day.
14. Greet them as they arrive at the practice.
15. Seat them in a quiet, comfortable area.
16. Make signs, forms, and brochures easy to read.
17. Be prepared to escort frail patients from room to room.
18. Check on them if they’ve been waiting in the exam room.
19. Use touch to keep the patient relaxed and focused.
20. Say goodbye, to end the visit on a positive note.
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