This article describes effective communication strategies in caring for older, seriously ill patients and their surrogates/caregivers. Specific skills in three core functions are highlighted: (i) empathic communication (ii) information provision and (iii) enabling decision making. Empathy skills include using 'NURSE' statements and assuring a continuous relationship. Tailored information and empathic communication can be used to facilitate information processing and overcome age-related communication barriers. Eliciting patients' goals of care is critical in decision making. Surrogates need assistance when making decisions for patients and often themselves have support and information needs. Suggestions are made to ensure patients' and caregivers' needs are met.
- Decision making
- Palliative care