I have one relative who is hard of hearing and may or may not choose to wear his hearing aids, so I shout.
I have one who has increasing dementia and who forgets or mangles 50% of what we say to her, so we speak slowly and repeat ourselves.
I have one who is just out of hospital who is confused much of the time, but may or may not have actual cognitive impairment. Hard to tell.
Out of four elders I care for. The 4th one can hear just fine, but filters everything through his extreme religious/political filters so he garbles even the most secular messages and somehow manages to insert his faith into them. It's really hard to follow when it's about things like the dinner he may have just eaten, his pain levels, or his most recent lab test.
I find myself either shouting or baby talking or explaining over and over to each of them, almost every day. When the "maybe cognitively impaired" one got released from the hospital Thursday, they gave her a simple Velcro back brace and a set of simple printed instructions. But the number of calls I've gotten, the number of hassles it's caused them, the complaints! The stress of wrapping it around her waist, omg! You'd think it was self-neuro-surgery. I've tried to show her twice, several nurses tried, the physical therapist tried, her husband/my dad tries. She just called me AGAIN, probably for the 10th time in 3 days, to tell me how "terribly confusing these darn braces are." I spoke to her in baby voice, even though she may be fine mentally, super slowly, using tiny, simple words. She got offended! Now I'm in hot water for leaving her all on her own to figure out how to use it, but there really is NOTHING anyone can do to help her put it on/take it off/understand it.
I'm open to ANY suggestions about how to communicate with old people. I also spent 10 minutes explaining the process of choosing between Extra Strength Tylenol ("when you're in pain") or the narcotic to bust in half ("if you're in extreme pain"). So I said, "Are you in any pain?" She said, "No, of course not! I took the pill." I said, "Which pill?" Turns out, the narcotic. So I said, "Did you remember to cut it in half?" and she said, "Which one should I cut in half?" *me banging my head against the wall*
Now what? I guess I should break the remaining 3 in half when I'm there tomorrow, but seriously? But she cannot determine what +4 hours is, and she can't determine her own level of pain? She's the mentally sound one, or so I thought. Now I'm confused!
The hospital urged us to put her into a nursing home post-op, but she refused vehemently. We also didn't want her to be in quarantine for 2 weeks while they restrict all visitors...because she won't get the shot since she insists that the government is lying and they really are injecting the virus into people to GIVE them Covid to "thin the herd"?!?!?!
I'm trying to be patient, loving and clear in my communication. Nothing is getting through - not signs on her wall, not the doctor's orders written and highlighted on her nightstand, not repeated verbal admonitions...