How Healthcare Workers Can Communicate Better With Senior Citizens

Updated on November 6, 2020

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Doctors, nurses, and individuals in every area of the healthcare industry go through specific and extensive training to understand the human body. These healthcare workers commit years to understanding how they can help people overcome their medical challenges.

Not only do healthcare workers need to be highly trained in their areas of expertise, they must also be excellent communicators. When going through the process of becoming a healthcare professional, it is unlikely that you are being tested based on your bedside manner. Healthcare providers should invest in their employees so that every worker is prepared to handle patients with a professional and compassionate demeanor. Having good communication skills is critical when talking with patients, especially vulnerable patients. When seniors enter the later years of their life, they are more physically and mentally fragile. In this article, we will talk about the ways that healthcare workers can communicate well with senior citizens.

1. Observe

Before engaging with your patient about any positive or negative news, observe their behavior. Do they seem timid? Do they have a lot of opinionated family members? Observe their demeanor and surroundings to determine the most effective form of communication. Based on what you observe, you can move forward taking their situation into consideration. If they seem to be alone, express sensitivity by not assuming that they have family members that can take care of them. If they seem to be seeking space from the opinions of family members, talk to them privately so they have the ability to process information in their own way.

2. Listen 

After observing the demeanor of an elderly patient, listen to the things they are saying. Do they seem to be confused about what is going on? Are they anxious to know what their next steps are? Listen to the biggest concerns and joys they are facing so that you can appropriately prepare them for what is ahead.

3. Share Directly

It is important to communicate gently and in a way your patient will understand. There are many big medical terms and phrases that the average individual cannot interpret. Speak to patients in a way that is direct and easy to understand. If you are beating around the bush or sugarcoating information, that could be harmful to your patients’ mindset for the future. By communicating honestly, you can begin an open conversation about what the next steps are for your patient.

4. Have Ideas

When you speak with your patient, make sure that you are helping guide them by offering suggestions and ideas. You may be sharing news that a person does not know how to interpret or process. Help offer suggestions for what their next steps could be. Do not tell your patient what to do, but share your care by doing extra research that helps to guide them in the right direction. If the next step for a patient is going to an assisted living facility, help them find an amazing facility like Long House. If an individual is in need of surgery or intensive procedures, help them understand the pros and cons associated with each option.


Towards the end of life, people experience fluctuating emotions. From extreme gratitude to sorrow and pain, many elderly individuals are trying to do their best to remain in good health. When you communicate with a senior citizen about the status of their health, understand that it is a sensitive subject. Do your best to offer personal advice and quality communication based on the situation that your patient is in. Different patients need different types of communication based on the challenges they are facing. When you communicate thoroughly with observation and listening, you can help your patient tackle the challenges they are facing.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.