Text -- 304-412-4065 Danny@DannyPettry.com

As I share insights and tips on communicating with confused elderly patients after surgery, I want to offer a quick personal disclosure. My father recently underwent surgery to have a stent put in his kidney and has been experiencing confusion due to heavy medication. This experience has given me a deeper understanding of the challenges and importance of empathetic communication in such situations.

When communicating with an elder individual who is confused and delusional after surgery and medication, it’s important to approach the situation with patience, empathy, and understanding.

Here are a few strategies that may help to effectively communicate with the person:

1. Maintain a Calm and Reassuring Demeanor:
Keep your tone of voice calm and reassuring. Speak in a gentle and non-threatening manner to help alleviate any feelings of anxiety or distress the individual may be experiencing.

2. Validate Their Feelings and Experiences:
Even if the individual’s experiences seem delusional or disconnected from reality, it’s essential to acknowledge their feelings and experiences without dismissing or invalidating them. You might say, “It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I’m here to help you.”

3. Use Simple and Clear Language:
When speaking with the individual, use simple and easy-to-understand language. Avoid complex sentences or explanations that could further confuse the person. Keep your communication straightforward and to the point.

4. Provide Reassurance and Comfort:
Offer words of reassurance, comfort, and support. Let the individual know that they are safe, cared for, and surrounded by people who want to help them through this difficult time.

5. Grounding Techniques:
Use grounding techniques to help the person connect with the present moment. This could include gently reminding them of the time, date, and where they are. You might say, “It’s Tuesday, and you’re in the hospital recovering from surgery. You’re surrounded by people who are here to help you feel better.”

6. Avoid Arguing or Contradicting Their Perceptions:
It’s generally unproductive to argue with or contradict the individual’s perceptions or experiences. Instead, try to redirect the conversation to a more neutral or calming topic. If the person insists on something that didn’t happen, you can acknowledge their feelings without validating the content of the delusion. For example, you could say, “I understand that you feel that way. Let’s focus on getting you comfortable right now.”

7. Engage in Active Listening:
Practice active listening by giving the person your full attention, making eye contact, and responding empathetically to their concerns. Avoid interrupting or rushing the conversation.

8. Monitor the Environment:
Ensure that the environment is calm, quiet, and free from unnecessary stimulation. Reduce any potential sources of confusion or distress, such as loud noises or unfamiliar faces.

9. Involve Family Members or Caregivers:
If appropriate, involve family members or caregivers in the communication process. They can provide additional support and reassurance to the individual and help reinforce a sense of reality.

10. Consult Healthcare Professionals:
If the confusion and delusions persist, or if the individual’s condition worsens, it’s crucial to seek assistance from healthcare professionals. They can assess the situation, provide appropriate medical interventions, and offer guidance on how to best support the individual during this challenging time.

Ultimately, the goal of communication in this context is to provide comfort, reassurance, and a sense of security to the confused and delusional individual. By approaching the situation with empathy and understanding, you can help create a supportive environment that promotes the individual’s well-being and recovery.