5 Tips for Communicating with Older Eye Patients

Eye doctors will routinely see older patients as eye sight can degenerate over time. To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, it is key to communicate well with all of your patients. However, you may need to make some small modifications to your communication style in order to help your older patients understand you better. 

Allow Extra Time

As a person ages, their brain processes slow down. This means that it will take a little longer for your older patients to process the information you are giving them. And since they generally have an increased need for information, poor rushing through your information will only lead to confusion. So plan for a little extra time for your older patients so they have time to process the information you give them and so you don’t also appear rushed.  

Sit Face to Face

Speaking face to face can be helpful in several ways. Not only does it make your patient feel like they have your undivided attention, but it also can eliminate any distractions, allowing them to focus better on you. Plus it gives the opportunity for patients with hearing loss to be able to read your lips if needed. Want another reason you should sit face to face when speaking with you patients? Research has found that patients comply better with treatment recommendations following a face to face encounter with their doctor. 

Speak Clearly and Slowly

Because an older patient’s brain process what you are saying at a slower rate than your younger patients, slow down your speech. Don’t speak fast or in a rushed manner. Also, speak clearly; and for patients with hearing loss, you may have to speak a little louder in order for them to hear you. However, never shout–speaking too loudly or shouting actually can make it more difficult for your patient to hear and understand you. 

Don’t Make it Complicated + Write it Out

Don’t confuse your patients with an information overload. Keep things simple and stick to one topic at a time. Try giving your patient important information in outline form. And for a more permanent form of communication, consider writing out your instructions or information that you want the patient to take home with them. This can help older patients with memory problems who may forget key information or treatment instructions by the time they get home. It also allows your patients to review what you have said later in a less stressful environment, giving them plenty of time to process it all.

Listen

Communication is a two way street so be sure to actively listen to your patients and what they are telling you. Don’t interrupt them as they may forget their train of thought and it also causes you to miss important information they are telling you.