Communication is Key

Communication is Key to Autonomy, Inclusion and Good Care

See also: Caring for the Elderly and Disabled

See also: Person-Centered Model of Care

Useful Skills for All

For persons of all ages living in difficult situations, expressing one’s self properly with meaning and intent may be difficult.  This difficulty includes those living foster care, eldercare, memory care, behavioral  health and substance abuse care to name a few, In turn, it is easy for family and caregivers to be dismissive of complaints or challenges to care blaming the disease or illness on a person’s unwilling to be compliant or cooperative.

Unable to communicate and having your needs and desires validated and executed can lead to the loss of confidence in yourself and in those who care for you.  The inability to communicate may present itself as anxiousness, violence, refusing care, depression, withdrawal and isolation.

Communication with those who are living in difficult situations is key to enabling those we love and care about to live with dignity, to receiving optimal care that promotes living a full and “active” life with family, friends and in the community.  Learn more about communication from the information and links below.

  1. First learn to be nonjudgmental.

 Since 1977, The Samaritans of RI have practiced nonjudgmental listening to communicate with the hopeless and alone. At SAMSRI, the rule to communication is best expressed as “90% listening and 10% talking”. If you are talking you may miss what the speaker is trying to communicate. After you have finished listening, it might be helpful to ask, “Of all things you’ve talked about tell me what’s bothering you the most.” You might be surprised at what you learn by being nonjudgmental and a good listener.

To learn more about non-judgmental listening – connect here

  1. Communication is Key to Preventing, Identifying and Dealing with Exclusion, Isolation and other Abuse  No one wants to believe anyone of any age, living apart from family and friends, including those with any disability would be abused or neglected but it can happen at home, in the community and in a professional care setting. With your loved one’s permission, participating in care giving can afford you the opportunity to HEAR your loved one or friend talk about the experience including what they like and dislike as well as see and hear first-hand signs of potential abuse or neglect, individual or professional noncompliance withe medical directives and orders, as well as well hearing and seeing the individual’s feelings of loneliness, isolation and abandonment. All of the above have a direct impact on overall health and well being of any one at at any age.A guide to signs of abuse and neglect – connect hereLaw Enforcement Elder Abuse Guide – connect here
  2. Learn to communicate with persons with disabilities and memory challenges. (Useful skills for anyone)

People First Guide – connect here

Essential tips Fact Sheet – connect here

Topics covered include:

Dementia and language

Communicating with a person with dementia

Before you speak

How to speak

What to say


Body language and physical contact

Sensory impairment

Hearing loss

Sight loss

Note: This information should not be used to determine medical or behavioral health treatment.  Every person is unique. We encourage you to use this information as the gateway/starting point to a conversation with your primary care doctor or specialist to determine an individual’s best care and treatment plan.