Advising an older man about starting an exercise program...counseling a woman about the proper way to take her osteoporosis medication...discussing end-of-life care options with the family of a long-time older patient who is dying. These are just some examples of the complex and sensitive issues facing clinicians who treat older people. Health care providers who communicate successfully with older patients may gain their trust and cooperation, enabling everyone to work as a team to handle physical and mental health problems that might arise. Effective communication techniques, like those discussed in this handbook, can save time, increase satisfaction for both patient and practitioner, and improve the provider's skill in managing the care of his or her patients.
Ongoing communication is key to working effectively with your older patient. If a patient does not follow recommendations or starts missing appointments, explore whether or not a difficulty in communication has developed. Paying attention to communication increases the odds of greater health for your patient and satisfaction for you both.
For resources on working with older patients, contact:
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
For NIA publications:
National Institute on Aging Information Center
American Geriatrics Society (AGS)
American Medical Association (AMA)
Gerontological Society of America (GSA)