Seniors: Do You Have a Friend Who Listens?

Oct 1st, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Identifying and having a friend who listens to us during those times when frustration and misunderstandings are on the rampage  can be one of the most worthy of realtionships an older person experiences. 

That person can be a long time friend, a colleague from a previous position, a  well liked neighbor, someone you trust implicitly.  Conversations with persons at times like these are more than casual.  They include deep feelings, revelations, and sometimes intimate details of issues and relationships.  So, having a good listener is one thing, but having one  who is sterling in trust and confidentiality is another. 

Many of our issues, which beg for a good listener, often just need airing. Articulating worries, concerns, family matters can often let off a valve that brings ready relief.  The issue, often, is can the listener provide more than a listening ear.  If that is required, it may be unfair to the listener to lay those expectations on him/her.  If that is the  case, the appropriate thing to do then would be to identify a professional therapist or counselor.  Sometimes persons are reluctant to do that  for reasons of intimidation or suspicion.  Identifying a competent counselor ordinarily pays off in very positive outcomes.

When the reliance is on and with a friend, both parties need to recognize the obligation one is placing on the other.  A pact needs to reached, which protects information, the friendship, and draws boundaries around the amount of time that will be committed to this relationship. 

Family members, of either, may not need to know of the arrangement.  Likely it is best if they don’t, since some of the information may concern someone mutually known by both parties. 

Listening is a gift.  The person who offers, assuming their own integrity, is giving a real gift. Deciding on the process may also include some kind of remuneration or gift to the listener.  If he/she refuses, that is up to them.  There are various ways to express appreciation. 

At last, if real progress is made, then perhaps the listening role can be folded into just continuing your previous friendship.  If additional counseling is required, that should be an understood possibility that does not give offense. The critical factor here is getting at the issues that concern the person requiring a listener.  Having found a way to do that enables the conciliation desired.



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