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The Art of Compassionate Communication
for Elder Caregivers

By: Jill Sarah Moscowitz

(Page (3 of 3)

Active Listening. Listening is truly an art. It is a skill that can be acquired. One way to practice this skill is through active listening. Active listening is a technique in which the person listening re-states his or her understanding of what the speaker has said, before introducing their response to what has been said. For example; “What I heard you say is …,” followed by “Does that sound about right?

Reframe Hostile or Difficult Communications. It’s possible that the person you are caring for may speak to you in anger. It may be helpful to consider that their anger may be due to their own frustrations, and not about you. For example, “You are no good! You never help me!” This statement might be reframed: “What I hear you saying is that you are wanting help and it feels like I am not helping now. Is that what you meant to say?” In hostile or difficult communications, it is sometimes helpful to involve a third neutral person to help with this type of communication. 

At the very heart of compassionate communication is our desire to be collaborative in our communications – to hold a balance between our needs and the needs of the other. This is particularly important for caregivers who are so often looking after the needs of the other.


Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. (c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication Website:, Email: Phone: (818)957-9393.

Loving What Is by Byron Katie,

Elder Companion, by Elizabeth B. Bolton. Lesson 3: Communication. University of Florida, IFAS Extension.

First National Symposium on Ethical Standards for Elder Mediation, April 19-20, 2007,

Mediation Resources For Caregivers, Help For Those Taking Care Of The Seriously Ill,

Elder care mediators,

Jill Sarah Moscowitz has over twenty years combined experience in the fields of healthcare and conflict resolution. She offers training, mediation and counseling services in the New York metropolitan area. For more information,

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