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Nurse visits with Hispanic female patient and the patient’s caregiver or granddaughter. The nurse is visiting the patient at home. The nurse takes notes while talking with the patient.

Some specific tips for communicating with family are:

  • Be a good listener. Remember, listening is the most important aspect of communication.
  • Talk openly about your fears, worries and needs. This will invite frank and meaningful dialogue. Other family members may feel comfortable sharing as a result.
  • Broach difficult subjects. Discuss topics such as finances, insurance, wills and advance directives. (Advance directives clarify what the loved one wants done in case of a medical emergency.) These can be difficult and delicate subjects, but preparing for the future can help relieve stress. Chances are, your loved one is also concerned about these issues.
  • Recognize what everyone is feeling. Caregiving often arises after a medical crisis, particularly with heart disease and stroke. The entire family may be left reeling. Try to be patient. A family member who has never adapted well to a crisis likely won’t be very good at dealing with this either. Give everyone time to adjust in his or her own way.