New guide helps providers make effective connection with senior patients

October 15, 2012

"Communicating With Older Adults: An Evidence-Based Review of What Really Works," the latest report from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), provides 40 pages of recommended guidelines for health care providers interacting with the fastest growing age segment of America's population.

This publication is intended for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, biologists, psychologists, , caregivers, economists, and health policy experts—anyone who seeks to have the best possible interactions with older patients. It was developed by GSA and supported by McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

"The report is based in the scientific literature, yet the contributors created something extremely accessible," said Jake Harwood, PhD, head of the Advisory Board that crafted the report. "It covers the full range of experienced by older adults and , and gives concrete suggestions for dealing with problems when they arise."

The U.S. Administration on Aging forecasts that nearly one in five Americans will be 65 or older by 2030. At present, those age 65 and above make nearly twice as many physician office visits per year as do adults 45 to 65. According to the U.S. , two-thirds of older people are unable to understand the information given to them about their .

The report provides 29 specific recommendations in four categories: general tips for improving interactions with older adults, general tips for improving face-to-face communication with older adults, tips for optimizing interactions between and older patients, and tips for communicating with older adults with .

The recommendations were contributed by experts in the fields of and communications. Each is accompanied by a brief explanation of the rationale, tips for implementing the recommendation in busy health care settings, and selected references for further reading. The objective is to encourage behaviors that consider the unique abilities and challenges of older adult patients and produce positive, effective interactions among everyone involved.

"The report distills a large body of empirical research findings and scholarship from several disciplines into a set of concrete recommendations for effective communication with older adults," said Advisory Board member Daniel G. Morrow, PhD. "The recommendations include nonverbal and verbal strategies that are often grounded in compelling examples that involve common communication challenges."

Among the specific steps outlined in the report, care providers are encouraged to avoid speech that might be seen as patronizing to an older person, verify listener comprehension during a conversation, and pay close attention to sentence structure when conveying critical information.

"This resource will be of great benefit to health care providers, and would also make good reading for older adults. Increasing awareness of some of these issues among the older population could help them seek more appropriate accommodation when needed," Harwood said.

GSA will distribute the report to its own members, as well as members of the American Geriatrics Society, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, and the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

"While focused on , the recommendations are relevant to communication across the lifespan," Morrow said.

Explore further: Effective pain management crucial to older adults' well-being

Related Stories

Effective pain management crucial to older adults' well-being

April 11, 2011
Improved management of chronic pain can significantly reduce disability in older adults, according to the latest issue of the WHAT'S HOT newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

New GSA resources lay foundation for relieving seniors' pain

January 31, 2012
The pain suffered by older adults is the shared focus of the two newest entries in The Gerontological Society of America's (GSA) From Publication to Practice series. Together they address both pain management and new labeling ...

Elderly prisoners need better medical care: report

June 14, 2012
Soaring numbers of older, sicker prisoners are causing an unprecedented health care challenge for the nation's criminal justice system, according to a new UCSF report.

Going to physician visits with older loved ones could improve care

January 23, 2012
Family companions who routinely accompany older adults to physician office visits could be helpful to health care quality improvement efforts, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Nearly half of Ontario seniors do not see dentists regularly

October 27, 2011
Forty-five per cent of Ontarians 65 years and older did not see a dentist in the last year, increasing their risk of chronic diseases and a reduced quality of life , a new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital, Women's ...

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.