How to Say it to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders by David Solie is one of the required reading books on the Institute for Challenging Disorganization‘s list for its Level II Aging Specialist Certificate.
Mr. Solie teaches us how to finetune our conversational style to match the unique, long-term perspective of Seniors. People approaching the ends of their lives are not usually concerned with the day-to-day: they are reviewing their accomplishments, their relationships and their place in the world to summarize those fundamental aspects of their humanity. A successful interaction with an older person often hinges on a younger person’s ability to slow down in the dialogue. Be curious about an older person’s experiences, and carefully open to the idea that there is deep meaning in a story or an off-hand remark.
In addition, Mr. Solie emphasizes the critical emotional perspective of an Elder. They are experiencing increasing indignities – poorer vision, hearing, balance, strength. They are entitled to respectful accommodations. A slower, quieter discussion serves that purpose.
But after reading this book, I found myself determined to use its techniques with anyone – the reminder that we each have an irreplaceable point of view to share was valuable.