How to write for the elderly
Differences in mentality and lifestyle between generations, as well as physical or cognitive problems often associated with aging, sometimes complicate exchanges within the same family or between professional caregivers and elderly patients. In order to communicate with the seniors, it is necessary to remember some of the characteristics of this exchange, which is so beneficial for their well-being and to prevent isolation. Here are some tips on how to write for the elderly.
1) How to write for the elderly: be respectful
To communicate effectively, we must adapt the message and the way we deliver it to the person we are talking to. You don’t talk to a child the same way you talk to a coworker. When it comes to writing for the elderly, many of us tend, mostly unconsciously, to treat them as children or incompetent.
2) Be succinct
If your reader has a poor working memory, it will be helpful to break up your sentences into smaller units when you need to convey important or complex information. Avoid subordinates that weigh down the sentence, even an adult with no particular difficulty can forget the beginning of the sentence if you are talking about a medical treatment and use long sentences.
3) Design is your friend
When it comes to thinking of new ideas on how to write for the elderly, here’s one: present ideas with illustrations or diagrams if this makes them easier to understand. Highlight main ideas and important information using subheadings, bullet lists, and bold type.
4) How to write for the elderly: consider other means
If you choose to deliver your message in written form, consider also delivering the information in alternative formats – large print, Braille, audio or video cassette or CD/DVD, computer diskette. Choosing only one written medium may prevent you from reaching important segments of your target audience.
Communicating with the elderly around us requires sensitivity and respect. Writing for the elderly is often very enriching, as they have a richer life experience. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity, while respecting possible differences in mentality and opinions.