When you’re a caregiver who is meeting the person you’ll be helping for the first time, conversation starters are always helpful to ease into the relationship. Liberty Resources Home Choices provides in-home assistance for seniors and people with disabilities in the Philadelphia metro area and eastern Pennsylvania. Here, we offer tips about beneficial and fun icebreakers to help caregivers naturally ease into quality conversations that create strong bonds with the people they assist.
Benefits of Caregiver Conversations
There are lots of reasons to engage in meaningful conversation with those you serve. The following are just some advantages these chats can bring:
Help Them Feel Heard
Engaging in deeper discussions lets seniors and people with disabilities know they are acknowledged and recognized as whole people. This can help elevate their sense of dignity and confidence, which can boost moods and levels of joy.
Provide Them With a Healthy Sense of Escape
Discussing memories of loved ones can help people revisit happy times of the past. It can also offer a reprieve from present-day health topics and commitments.
Keep Them Open to Sharing
When conversations go deeper in a safe environment, people are more likely to share other experiences and feelings, both positive and negative. This expanded line of communication can help them talk about other topics they wish to discuss.
Stimulate Them Intellectually
Getting into conversations that go beyond the surface level with seniors and people with disabilities will not only help you forge stronger bonds and connections, but it will also help elevate their mental activity, potentially helping prevent symptoms of dementia.
Having deeper conversations with seniors can help them in many ways, from their mental to physical health. It can also help caregivers learn about their preferences, histories, and experiences to foster bonds, ultimately improving relationships and care services.
Ice Breakers and Fun Conversation Ideas
There are many questions to ask seniors that can elicit rich conversation and help you build rapport. Ideally, the questions are open-ended and require more than a simple “yes” or “no” response. Some good prompts may include:
“What Is Your …?”
Questions that start with “what is your …” are simple yet effective ways to start conversations about someone’s likes and dislikes. For example, “What is your favorite hobby?” or “What is your favorite food to eat?” This framing can enable you to ask what their preferred season, holiday, color, or other aspects may be.
These types of questions also naturally lead to follow-up questions, such as “Why?” and “How did that happen?” These are both excellent ways to maintain interest levels and momentum.
“Tell Me About …”
The prompt, “Tell me about …” is another great way to begin a longer conversation about a person’s past and fond memories. This prompt can encourage people to discuss their childhood and games they would play, where they went to grade school, their wedding days, favorite vacations, favorite pets, and their kids or children and grandchildren.
What Would You Say To …?”
Many people enjoy being asked their opinion or for advice. A good way to get a senior’s advice and gain their confidence is with the prompt, “What would you say to …?” For example, “What would you say to a person starting a new job?” or “What would you say to someone who just got married?” There are lots of ways to ask someone for advice during opportune moments so they can pass on their knowledge and experience.
There are many questions, prompts, and ways for caregivers to engage in meaningful conversations and lifestyle support with the people they assist. It’s also important to ask them how they are feeling and other topics about the present. Reading cues to know when a person would prefer silence is also a good caregiver skill.
No matter what questions or topics are discussed, it’s important to keep in mind a few key customs while talking to seniors or people with disabilities. These include:
- Staying at eye level
- Letting the conversation flow even if the response doesn’t answer the question
- Welcoming silence and allowing people to finish their sentences and thoughts
- Keeping the focus on the person and avoiding storytelling, unless asked
- Using physical items in the home, such as photos or souvenirs, to start conversations organically
Contact Liberty Resources Home Choices for Skilled Caregivers
Finding a caregiver in Philadelphia, PA, and the Lehigh Valley area is made easy at Liberty Resources Home Choices. For over 40 years, our team of caregivers has been dedicated to listening to and genuinely engaging in meaningful conversations with seniors and people with disabilities. We take pride in serving individuals with the dignity and respect they need to remain independent in their homes and thrive within their communities. To find out how we can help you or a loved one with any of our services, contact us today.