PDF Booklet: Unlocking the Communication Code of Seniors

This foundational article is now available in a PDF booklet that can be shared family members, colleagues, clients and anyone who is involved with older adults.  Just use the order form below to obtain your complimentary copy

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
-George Bernard Shaw

Despite the unprecedented opportunity afforded advisors by an aging population, many find themselves unprepared to successfully communicate with seniors. Instead, they wind up frustrated and confused about “what went wrong” with their best opportunities. While it would be easy to blame this disconnect on the eccentricities of seniors, new research on aging identifies poor signaling based on misinformation as a primary cause of these communication setbacks. Despite their best efforts, advisors wind up sending the wrong message. What can make this better? The good news is that by updating their understanding about the psychology of seniors, advisors can open the door to more productive and rewarding relationships older clients. The updating process begins with a new insight about aging: older adults are still growing. How is this possible? Aren’t older adults merely diminished versions of their younger selves, looking backward instead of forward, having lived past their developmental peak? While this turns out to be the physical reality of aging, assuming that the loss of physical capabilities implies a mandatory loss of mental capabilities and the end of personality development has proven to be incorrect. Research has shown just the opposite is occurring…


2 responses to “PDF Booklet: Unlocking the Communication Code of Seniors

  1. In my years of working within this field, I have found that seniors are culturally convinced (esp. those living within a corporate designed new age community complex) and are subsequently expected within that community, to look backwards, regarding their life, instead of forwards. Typically their days are boring and activities narrow on scope. Seniors are being cheated out any possibility of growing … mentally, psychologically, physically, emotionally and spiritually. A knowledgeable facilitator can lift that veil or false state of mind through innovative programming, and can bring about an integrative renewal and joy of living, sharing and growing for seniors.

  2. From a developmental perspective, life review is a critical growth task that seamlessly coexists with growth opportunities of the present. Simply put, it asserts that there is growth to the end, a point of view that goes unappreciated in our youth dominated culture to the detriment of older adults who, as you point out, are relegated to boring activities which fail to recognize their true capacity. It is a unique capacity that fined tune for reflection as will as full engagement with the present that I discuss in my book “How to Say It Seniors” citing the work of Dr. Restak (see below) that fully supports your observation that older adults are ready and desirable of stimulating and engaging programs bring “integrative renewal” on many levels.

    “In his book (based on the PBS series of the same name), The Secret Life of the Brain, Richard Restak, M.D., points to research by Denise Park at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Marilyn Albert at the Harvard Medical School that indicates that the aging brain does change, but in ways that enhance the tasks we need to do at the end of our lives. According to Dr. Restak, the brain of an older person does show some changes in the prefrontal cortex, its prime platform for working memory capacity and the area responsible for processing new information. But all other brain activities, including IQ and the capacity for verbal expression, language, and abstract thinking, remain gloriously intact. Yes, the body does wear out and slow down—that’s a reality of aging. And because of these changes in the prefrontal cortex, the aging brain loses some of its ability to perform multiple mental manipulations. As a result, the external world may begin to fade, distraction set in, and focus becomes compromised. But the slowing of these mental processes enhances the ability to reflect and make informed judgments. As Dr. Restak reports, quoting Ms. Park, slowing mental capacity has its advantages.

    “While it is true that you get slower with aging, the slowing can actually work to your advantage. For one thing, older people are better at mulling over situations, reflecting, and drawing upon their life experiences to arrive at decisions.” (p. 162)”

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