A Friendly Gesture Can Go A Long Way For Seniors In Assisted Living

How would you feel if someone greeted you with his or her arms folded across their chest and their lips scrunched up to one side of their face when you walked into a room? Most likely, you would predict that something was wrong and with scrutiny, that the person is angry with you for something you have done. The gestures alone speak confrontation. Experts believe that body language accounts for a much greater role in communication than actual spoken words, anywhere from 60 to 90 percent more so. Most people do not have to be a scientific researcher in the field of body language to sense anger, attentiveness, boredom or approval from a person who has not yet spoken a single word. The science of kinesics, the study of non verbal communication, provides clues as to the attitude or state of mind of people involved in an Assisted Living Los Angeles Facility. Body language can set the tone for a one on one conversation, interview or a group meeting.

Health workers dealing with patients in long term care settings such as Assisted Living in Los Angeles have double duty in being aware of their own body language and how it affects seniors. They have the responsibility of caring for the elderly who may be in pain, frightened, depressed or in some cases, cognitively impaired. A positive or negative body gesture given consciously or unconscientiously, can affect just about anyone, but has the potential for a much greater impact on a senior in a vulnerable state of mind. Although there are several common gestures that have been construed to communicate certain emotions, experts warn that there are number of circumstances that prove otherwise. It would be wise to keep an open mind when impacted by a certain body movement and consider all of the possibilities before jumping to conclusions.

A good example is the arms crossed against the chest signal. Generally interpreted to be a negative attempt to put an invisible barrier between themselves and others, but depending on the circumstances, could actually signal something entirely different. It could also mean that the person crossing their arms is cold which would be further clarified if the person is rubbing their arms or huddling. When the overall situation is amicable, it could mean that the person is thinking deeply about what is being said. In a serious or confrontational situation, it could mean that a person is expressing opposition, especially if the person is leaning away from the speaker.

Other non verbal signals can include eye contact or lack thereof. This can be even further complicated by the fact that eye contact can mean different things in different cultures. The importance of Elderly Health Care professionals understanding those differences is critical. Many Assisted Living California facilities are incorporating Cultural Sensitivity Training for their health care professionals. Lack of eye contact in American culture may indicate many things, most of which are negative. A physician or caregiver may interpret a patient’s refusal to make eye contact as a lack of interest, embarrassment, or even depression. However, a Chinese patient may be showing the physician or healthcare worker respect by avoiding eye contact. A person can observe and interpret the body language of others to determine the silent message they are receiving or the one they are sending out to others. There are three common messages that occur in a broad range of situations and types of interactions and are particularly important in a healthcare environment when dealing with the elderly in an Assisted Living LA Facility. They are sincerity, familiarity and warmth.

Body language that conveys sincerity is much like that conveying honesty. It is characterized by steady eye contact, relaxed but poised body posture, and leaning toward or reaching out toward the other person or people. It is the type of message that most people deliver quite unconsciously and naturally, but other people may deliberately assume this kind of body language in an effort to influence another person. Typical examples might include a salesperson pitching a product or service, a child trying to convince a parent he or she really needs a certain toy, or even a close friend having a conversation that is particularly honest or difficult.

Body language that conveys familiarity has a strong influence on overall behavior. When someone displays relaxed, comfortable, and even casual body language, it lets the other person know they feel a strong degree of comfort and familiarity with him or her. Deliberate use of this kind of body language may help put a new acquaintance at ease in a group or communicate a higher level of affection for another person. In general, the more familiarity conveyed to others, or perceived in others, the more likely the communications will be open, honest and relaxed.

Body language that conveys warmth is similar to that of familiarity, but does not necessarily signify intimacy with a person or situation. Relaxed posture, open body position, sitting or standing close together are common ways of showing warmth. Retailers sometimes make use of this kind of body language by having their employees mingle with customers rather than have them stand behind a counter. In Assisted Living LA environments, it could help put family members at ease in what might be a stressful situation for them.

Keeping Context and Environment in Mind
Any effort to convey a certain message from ones body language should always include an evaluation of the situation. As a general rule, the more formal or conservative the environment, the more restrained and cautious the messages could or should appear. Otherwise, the gestures may be considered out of place. Conflict or uncomfortable feelings can occur when two or more people have different perceptions of the context or environment of the situation. These kinds of different perceptions are a major cause of miscommunication, misinterpretation, and general misunderstanding of both conscious and unconscious body language.