Seniors who have suffered a stroke or other disorders may lose their facility to speak and understand others, which can be frustrating for the senior and for family members and caregivers.  Family gatherings can become especially challenging; the shorthand of familiarity and people talking at once can be overwhelming for an elder with communications challenges.

At your next BBQ or family party, you may want to try some of these tips to help engage the senior members of the family:

  • Speak slowly. Use short phrases. Emphasize key words.
  • Use gestures to reinforce what you are saying.
  • Provide two choices when asking questions.
  • Your gathering is a great time to dig out the family pictures.  Not only will you all enjoy them, they’ll help to jog memories and allow an elder with speech challenges to point and gesture, rather than speak.

Here are more tips on communicating with elders with communications impairments.

Faerella Boczko, MS, CCC-SLP, BRS-S, is the Director of Speech Language Pathology at the Jewish Home.

She shares an overview of speech disorders faced by older adults here.