From having a friendly conversation with a stranger on the street to supporting a loved one in need, we are at our best when we’re connecting with others. In fact, research shows that healthy social interactions – ones that often lead to meaningful connections – improve our body and mind and allow us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.
Unfortunately, for many aging adults these meaningful connections may not be as common as they used to be. This drop is often because of changes in family and friend dynamics – like moving or passing away – or because a person is not as mobile, healthy, or financially secure as they once were.
To support seniors as they age, we can always provide a meaningful connection.
Creating a Connection with an Older Adult
You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a meaningful connection?” or “Do I need to know the person to develop one?”
Meaningful connections can be different things to different people, but they all share the same root: Purpose. With purpose, a person feels valued and is engaged on a personal level. These purposeful connections can be formed through something as simple as a shared love for a song playing at the grocery store to an entire afternoon looking through old family photographs in a living room.
In our fast-paced, short attention-span world, it’s important to remember that the more we put into a conversation or connection, the more we’ll get out of it. In other words, the more we ask questions and intently listen, the more reciprocation and trust we build with another person. And no, you don’t necessarily have to know a person to create a meaningful connection. Older adults have vibrant histories and rich lives, and when asked to connect they have plenty to share.
Ways to Form a Meaningful Connection with a Senior
Start on common ground – You both love the Beatles? Have the same taste in sweaters? Great – start there. Creating meaningful connections often starts with surface-level conversations that build trust.Ask a lot of questions – If a senior engages in conversation with you, make sure to let them know you’re interested by asking questions about the topic at hand. Let them know you’re not too busy to listen.
Be kind – It’s amazing how quickly kindness rubs off on others around us. Complimenting their appearance or letting them know their problem will be thought about or prayed over is a sure-fire way of initiating a valued connection.
Will you connect with an older adult over a conversation? Make a pledge today.