Listening. Oops. Did we forget that was important?
It isn’t because she has dementia. It’s because she can’t hear you!
All across the globe, well-meaning facilitators and activity directors shrug their shoulders at the end of the day. We think back to the challenges of teaching the art class, leading the discussion group, making sense of the inter-generational program, and wondering about our exercise routine.
We chalk up all the weird stuff that happened — or that didn’t happen as elders fell asleep- to dementia.
But, it just isn’t true.
The elders we are charged with supporting in living the most vibrant life possible simply can’t hear us — or each other.
While it’s impossible to completely remove the barriers of hearing loss, there are several very effective strategies:
- Be very, very aware.
In every choice, consider the impact on hearing and listening among participants.
- Seat elders to face one another.
Unless you are hosting a one-way performance, almost every other class or event should be set up to ensure elders can see one another’s faces.
- Be a bull dog.
Request the physician see their patient in another room — not right in the middle of your art class. Speak up when team members start talking when an elder is telling their story. Close doors so you can open the hearts and minds of elders.
- Invest in Eversound.
Give each elder the gift of participating fully with wireless headphones.
Whatever we do, let’s never mix up dementia with a barrier we can actually overcome — not listening.