5 Ways Caregivers Can Create a Meaningful Bond with Seniors

Caregiver sitting on the couch hugging senior

A caregiver is one of the most important roles in a senior’s life. There is a level of trust, respect, and understanding that goes into each interaction these two people may have. Ensuring that you start your relationship with the senior you care for on the right foot is key to creating a long, meaningful partnership.

It is extremely important that caregivers ensure they maintain a strong bond with those they are caring for. Therefore, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to create trust and love between you and your senior. Whether you are just starting out with a new senior friend or have been at it for a while but haven’t quite figured out the dynamic, we hope our tips can help.

1. Ensure Your Communication is Clear

As Oscar Wilde once famously said, “Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.” What he means is if we seek to be connected to one another, we have to be able to converse and communicate with one another.

This holds firm for caregivers and their seniors as well. If you are looking for that lasting relationship, you need to be able to be clear in everything you say to them. You also need to be open to listening as passionately as you are to communicating.

While we may not always realize it when we are speaking, there are ways that what we are communicating can be perceived the wrong way by the recipient. To avoid this, make sure you are following these communication tips:

  • Check your tone and never raise your voice
  • Use careful phrasing around difficult topics
  • Be considerate of their mood. Is this the right time to talk?
  • Be aware of your own emotions and proceed accordingly – take a moment if you are angry or upset.

2. Listen to Them and Their Desires

As we stated above, listening is just as important in a conversation as speaking. One could even argue that listening is the most important aspect of communication. Without true listening skills, we wouldn’t know how to talk or respond to the people we are conversing with.

Communication is important, especially with seniors. Listening to their needs and desires can help them feel more in control of their care. Many things are changing around them that they might not have control over, but listening to what they want and acknowledging that you heard them will help tremendously, even if you can’t actually give them what they desire.

There are going to be times when their input regarding their care is vitally important. If you don’t already have an understanding of respect and trust, chances are they won’t communicate to you the things you need to know. This could halt their care or even compromise their health. So, take the time to show them from the start that you are always willing to listen and respond.

Often, seniors simply want to feel like someone understands what they are experiencing and can sympathize with them over these struggles. Showing the respect and dignity they deserve lets them know that you have their back and are going to do what they want or need, even if it’s not your first choice.

3. Show Them Dignity and Respect

Dignity and respect are the two things in life that everyone deserves to have, no matter who they are. There is nothing that should take that away from anyone, especially not the seniors in your care.

As they come to accept the limitations of their bodies and minds, it’s important that you communicate to them that you see who they are, not what their ailments are. Yes, you are there to ensure they remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped being beautiful, multi-faceted human beings.

Even if they can no longer perform all the necessary care tasks, let them do what they can. Ensure that they remain in control of what happens to them and when. After all, it is still their life and their body. Communicate to them that you understand their boundaries and then stick to them.

There might be times you will have to go against what they want. For example, when giving medications or taking them to appointments, that doesn’t mean you can stop treating them kindly. Be gentle but firm. Remind them that you know they don’t like this, but that it’s important for them to complete the task for their own health. Never push. Let them agree to the situation in their own time.

If it helps, give them something else to think about beyond that unwanted moment in time. For example, remind them of an outing that you can go on once they’ve taken their medications. All of these strategies will communicate to your senior that they are loved, understood, and respected.

4. Find Activities You Both Enjoy

A great way that you can strengthen your bond with your senior is through mutual interests. That is how anyone makes friends, so why not give that a shot with someone with whom you are a caregiver?

Just because your senior now requires assistance within their home doesn’t mean they are no longer able to participate in the world around them. Many seniors still love doing activities within their communities if given the opportunity. If you are struggling to connect with your senior, take a moment to sit down with them and discuss the things they like to do.

Chances are you will find an activity or hobby that you both love. Doing something we love alone is okay, but it is much more rewarding to have a friend along for the ride. When participating in things you love, you are more likely to forget about those walls that come up when the situation seems more “official” or “professional.”

Seniors need to be reminded that just like we see them as people, they can see us as individuals as well.

5. Take Breaks – We All Need Space Sometimes

Transitioning to a new life experience is always hard. There is no easy way around it, and going through it can present its own challenges. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make the best of any situation.

Some people meet and bond within moments of being introduced. While others take a bit more time. If you find yourself in a situation where the bonding is taking a bit longer than anticipated, take a break. You can still perform your duties as a caregiver while giving your senior the space to adjust to this new person in their life.

Oftentimes, your coming into their home is just another transition in a long line of transitions. By acknowledging that you are there for them but not pushing them to interact, you are showing them that they are still in control of what happens. This goes back to the listening and affording them dignity tips we talked about earlier.

You can’t trust that they will welcome you with open arms the moment you enter their comfort zone during one of the most difficult times of their lives. However, by stepping back and giving them the space they need to adjust to this new normal, you are likely to find success at the end of the tunnel.

Accessible Caregivers Are Committed

If you are concerned about your loved one’s potential reaction to receiving in-home care, our experts are here to help. We want this transition to be as smooth as possible for both you and your loved one.

Contact us today to find out how our caregivers are ready to put your loved one first with both their care and comfort.