My last blog post dealt with caring for and helping senior adults, and mentioned some of the challenges that you are likely to encounter. Now I want to share my review of a book that I discovered. ”How to Say it to Seniors; Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders” by David Solie (Prentice Hall Press © 2004) is an excellent guide to communicating with senior adults. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is dealing with senior adults in a family or a business relationship.
Mr. Solie is a speaker and educator. He has a background in finance, and worked for several years with companies that primarily dealt with senior adults.
The book presents a fresh and honest perspective on the communication gap between seniors and middle-aged adults. We all go through developmental growth / personality development at different periods of our life, he writes. What is seen too often as a “decline” in older adults can be seen as a normal developmental process. The older person is simply learning to deal with the changes in life, losses, and independence that aging brings.
Solie states that “the secret mission” of older adults is to 1) maintain control and 2) leave a legacy. He suggests ways to allow the person to keep control and dignity while dealing with the changes that the person is going through. He explains why “trying to help” and explaining things logically (or, what is logical to the younger adult) meets with such strong and sometimes baffling resistance, why an older person’s focused occupation with a certain topic makes sense to them but seems obsessive to a younger person and how to deal with “NO!”
It is written in a manner that is respectful to all concerned. The concerns and frustrations of all sides are examined thoughtfully. Various practical ways to approach common problems are suggested. Although concerns over the elder’s safety and health are treated as serious, younger adults are also advised that sometimes they just have to “let go” and allow the elder person to choose their path. The most progress is made when the elder person is allowed to maintain as much control and choice as possible.
Of course there are situations that have progressed to the point where physical, emotional or mental issues have rendered the person a danger to themselves or others and someone must step in immediately and take control. But even those extreme situations can be helped by a willingness to see things from a slightly different viewpoint.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with older adults. It is pleasant reading, refreshingly honest, and without psychological, medical or legal mumbo-jumbo. Just good, solid advice.
Kalish Law Office, The Woodlands, Texas. www.kalishlawtexas.com Wills, Probate and Elder Law. “Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference.” Since 1984