Active Listening Improves Patient Relationship With Older Patients

Because of the widespread idea that doctors are the experts, the American healthcare system frequently gives medications and surgical procedures the highest priority. Due of the desired emotional distance between physicians and patients, this method may neglect the significance of holistic treatment, which encompasses conventional medicine, community-based, and preventative care.

This can lead to the occurrence of the “hostage bargaining system” where patients feel as if they have to negotiate for their wellbeing while being fearful and confused. This will lead to patients neglecting their concerns and even refusing to share their complete medical information to the medical provider.

HBS is much more common in older patients because healthcare providers are often influenced by stereotypes about older patients. This makes them behave in a way that makes the older patient less compliant. However, the healthcare industry is beginning to realize the importance of active listening in obtaining positive health outcomes for patients.

What Does Active Listening Involve?

According to the United States Institute of Peace, active listening is “a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding.” A clearer way of putting it is that active listening allows physicians to fully focus on what, how, and why a patient is saying something. Empathy is key here, of course.

Both verbal and non-verbal communication are just as important, and physicians will have to understand, acknowledge and address their patients’ emotional needs. More specifically, active listening means you need to:

  • Avoid using the computer during the talk, face the patient, make eye contact, and concentrate on understanding rather than formulating a response to show that you are present and paying attention.
  • Observe and apply nonverbal cues: Match the patient’s body language, keeping an eye out for any gestures or actions that support or emphasize what they are expressing.
  • Show interest in and promote more sharing: Ask open-ended inquiries and speak with curiosity.
  • Show that you understand their situation: rephrase what was said, seek clarification, and express your worries and sentiments in response

It is of key importance to realize that during active listening, the physician should not appear as an expert regarding the patient’s own experiences. Act as if the patient alone knows what they’re feeling and experiencing. Don’t cut them off and let them speak, and seek to know more about their situation!

What Makes Active Listening Essential to Older Patients?

Senior patients may have age-related issues like cognitive decline, hearing loss, and this requires even more active listening from the physician. Older patients may not be able to express themselves as clearly but that should not modify your behavior toward them.

Remember that older patients are used to the old healthcare system where doctors paid more attention and did not rush as much. Therefore, you will need to avoid talking down to the patient and interrupting them. Otherwise, they might stop trusting you and will be less compliant with your instructions.

Active listening means you:

  • Makes your patients feel safe and heard
  • Ensure that patients are at ease sharing their personal information
  • Avoid miscommunications
  • Find the underlying reason for a symptom or complaint
  • Encourage patients to manage their own health

Doctors May Benefits from Active Listening Too

Active listening may be beneficial for doctors too. That’s because they may learn a lot of information that will improve their medical practice, help avoid errors, lead to more positive online reviews, and a more positive reputation with patients.

You will also increase your chances for positive medical outcomes, reduce burnout, stress levels, and renew your passion for medicine. You can call Primary Medical Care Center at (305) 751-1500 for more information!