"How To Say It ® To Seniors: Closing the Communications Gap with Our Elders by David Solie, M.S., P.A.
If you work with older adults, or have older family members, or are getting older yourself, you need to read this book. I work on aging issues, my background is in communications theory, I read a lot of books on aging, advance planning, end of life issues and effective communication, and this is simply the best book I have read in a couple of years. The book explores the "developmental agenda" of older adults, and offers advice on breaking down the barriers to communication with adults near the end of life. The ideas in this book, will make you more effective as a professional and as a family member.
Libraries are filled with developmental psychology for children, adolescents and young adults. It might be easy to assume that emotional development is complete when we are independent adults, but research shows that it is not. Two major factors emerge late in life, a need to remain in control as our health and social system around us are changing, and a need to review and redefine our lives events to develop our legacy, how we will, or how we want to be remembered. Other scholars describe this process as re-indexing of memories. These psychological drivers impact the communication interactions with older adults. Understanding these factors and how to leverage these factors to enhance rather than inhibit communication with older adults is what this book is about. The author explains how to explain options and allow older adults make choices that are right for the individual. How to understand that the persons choice may be different than what others think is in "their best interest."
When talking with older adults it is common for the conversation to take wild turns (not only with older adults, I do this also.) The text explains this as a non-linear conversation. For example you ask about cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, and you get an answer about the person's mother replacing the glass in a kitchen window. David Solie explains why it is important to let the conversation go with the flow. Frequently these changes in topic are associated with revealing something the person highly values, or has never revealed. By listening to the person, we learn more about what is important to the person, than we do by trying to stay on message and on point.
A good deal of the book talks about legacy development and organic legacy. The author explains that this is not just about money, it is about examining and redefining life's events, to create or define how the person will or wants to be remembered. For persons with wealth, this may be deciding how their estate will be planned, but it also includes non-economic legacy of values and memories.
The book explains how these processes drive the agenda of the Person. By understanding and facilitating the process we can help move the process forward and enhance communication. Failing to do this, can result in disagreement and conflict instead of communication.
Simply put, I urge you read this book. The book is available on Amazon in print or Kindle edition.