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Rebecca Allwood

and Rowan H. Harwood


July 29, 2020: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 18 May 2022

Communication is part of everyday experience, and may be overlooked as a professional skill. However, it is central to healthcare practice. Working with older people can challenge our ability to communicate because of speech, sensory, and cognitive changes related to age or disease, environment, relationships, or social factors. The means our mechanisms of communication must be understood, and problems addressed, in order to enable adequate communication. Multiple sources (such as family members or professional staff) may need to be approached to ascertain full information, and to engage and include important stakeholders in a person’s care. Communication is required in making diagnoses, understanding problems, giving information, including imparting distressing news, delivering care, making decisions, and defusing conflict. Approaching these situations in the right way can improve the experience for patients and their families, maximize satisfaction with the consultation, and improve clinical outcomes.

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