I’ve observed how good communication can help a hospitalized aging parent maintain an optimistic outlook. This summer Dad was admitted to Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA (read my blog posts from RMH last May) and to section 8G at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. Hospitalizations are an enormous challenge for a family, and things can and do get confused.
During Dad’s hospital stays the thoughtful and respectful interaction with dedicated professionals — nurses, assistants, and technicians — made enormous contributions to his recovery.
Below I’ve listed seven interactions that made our stay less stressful and more relaxed.
We appreciated the health professionals who:
1. Stopped moving around for a few moments, made eye contact, and engaged Dad in conversation.
2. Took the time to explain routines in detail.
3. Alerted Dad with quiet voices before they turned on a light in the middle of the night.
4. Noticed my dad’s book or diary or iPad in conversation.
5. Used steady and quiet voices without those high-pitched tones — usually reserved for toddlers — that sometimes creep into people’s voices when they talk to older seniors.
6. Addressed Dad in respectful ways — no words like dearie or hon or sweetie.
7. Shared their own stories about a test or procedure to help us be more relaxed.
Each time one of these strong communicators left the room, I watched Dad grow more optimistic and energetic — just the kind of outlook that medical professionals want a patient to maintain.