Friday, July 26, 2013

Eldercare Tip: The 'Pregnant Pause' Proves Silence is Golden

The Pregnant Pause.  It's a term used by journalists that can help you communicate with your aging parent.

Reporters use lulls in the conversation to discover new things.  If the person being interviewed stalls or gives only a pat answer, the reporter waits.  And waits. The silence is painful, but often, the Pregnant Pause yields information that is lucid and memorable.  I know. As a journalist I was surprised by truths born out of silence.

Your aging parent will respond especially well to your Pregnant Pause.  That's because with advancing age his or her brain slows in processing information.  Retrieving prior facts and memories takes a longer time, too, as does formulating a response.

Suppose you ask:  "How did you like the last retirement community we visited?"  He or she may give you silence. Or a canned response with no detail: "It was OK, I guess."

Resist the temptation to fill in the conversation void.  Listen! With the extra time, and the trust you've earned in keeping your mouth shut,  your parent may utter something new and vital.

I asked an elderly client a few years ago, "What is the most important consideration in your move to a new home?"  She wisely said, "I need to think about that."  The next day, she called me.  "I've been thinking a lot about what you said.  Wherever I move, I want to be treated with dignity and respect."

The Pregnant Pause paid off.  It may for you, too. Try it with your aging parent.

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