Communication June 2004
It seems like such a simple thing: communication. We all do it every day. And yet, so often we seem to have difficulty. Communication involves three parts: the sender, the receiver, and the message itself. The sender must communicate clearly, the receiver must listen attentively, and the message must be clear. How often do we give a conversation less than our full attention? One eye is on the TV or computer screen, one ear on the radio or conversation next door, the mind is making shopping lists or thinking about the great book you just put down. How often do we run into situations with our closest family and friends where we assume the other person knows what we are talking about and so we use a kind of short-hand speech? As a family therapist, I have been repeatedly amazed at how many conflicts can be resolved by careful, slow, clear communication.
Communication with someone who has hearing loss can be especially challenging. Here are some tips that may help from an instructor who works with the hard of hearing. The speaker should face the audience directly, with light on your face. Get the listener’s attention and move away from noisy surroundings. Don’t shout, but speak clearly at a moderate pace. Don’t hide your mouth or chew when speaking. Provide additional clues with facial expressions and gestures. Be patient and willing to repeat if the listener doesn’t understand the first time. The listener can also help. Tell others how to talk to you. Pick places for conversation that have good lighting and fewer conflicting sounds. Pay attention and concentrate on the speaker, look for visual cues. Don’t interrupt, as more context may help with understanding. Admit when you don’t understand, and ask the speaker to repeat so there are no misunderstandings later. All of us use the visual cues from lips and body language to assist our “hearing”, although we may not do so consciously.
It can also be challenging to communicate with a person who has speech difficulties. These may include distorted speech or problems finding words resulting from a stroke. Both speaker and listener must be patient and work together to ensure good communication.
Remember that one of the most common experiences of aging is loneliness, and that many people begin to isolate themselves from social situations when they can not communicate or understand communication easily. Take the time to reach out and connect with someone you care about.
Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
FOR YOUR INFORMATION:
The New York Times reported that the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that the number of Americans over 65 who use the Internet has grown by 47% since 2000. While this sounds huge, it still represents only 22% of Americans in this age group. It also reported that a study by Generations On Line revealed that travel, history, hobbies and genealogy were among the top Internet searches, with health issues ranked sixth. Join the ranks who use the Internet regularly by taking our Internet class!
If you missed the program on Medicare and the Prescription Drug plans and you have questions about your options, call the PSRC social service staff at 252-2362 or visit the Medicare website at www.Medicare.gov.
The State of New Jersey is switching to digital photo drivers licenses starting in July. You can no longer renew by mail. To facilitate the transition, the Motor Vehicle Commission is sending mobile units into the community. PSRC will be a host site later this summer (date to be announced). If your license is due for renewal, the new license will cost $24 and you need “six points of identification”. Acceptable forms of ID are given different point values, and include passports and raised-seal birth certificates. Call 1-888-486-2229 or go to www.njmvc.gov for the list of acceptable documents. If you are not due for renewal this year, but want the digital license, it will cost $11 to carry until your next renewal date. It is not clear how many years this mobile service will be available.
Need a photo ID? In our security-conscious world, you need a photo ID for airline travel, banking and other situations. If you do not have a drivers license, you can get a non-driver digital photo ID from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, valid for 4 years. It will cost $24 and require the 6 points of proof of identity. You can obtain this ID from the mobile service when it comes.
ROMEO & JULIET – A group of home-schooled students will put on a production of excerpts from Romeo & Juliet at Spruce Circle on June 11 at 1:00 pm. Join us for this classic tale and refreshments.
RECEPTION FOR JOCE & CARL HELM – PSRC’s founder, Joce Helm and her husband, Carl, will be moving to the Seattle area in the Fall. Help us send them off in style with fond memories at a reception at the Suzanne Patterson Building on June 15 from 4:30 to 6. RSVP to 924-7108.
DAY TRIP TO PHILADELPHIA – Join the PSRC Travel Club on its first day trip. Tuesday, September 28 we will visit the new Constitution Center in Philadelphia and then take a tour of the historic and riverfront areas by “Duck”. These vehicles are able to travel both the streets and the river to view sites such as Society Hill, Independence Square, South Street, Penn’s Landing and the murals along the way. The Constitution Center comes highly recommended by Danny Hoskins and others who have visited. The cost, which includes bus and admissions, is $40. Lunch is on your own.