We all have the chance to make the world a different, and better, place – each and every day. While this difference might not be cataclysmic, throughout your life it is significant.

The choices you make on a daily basis determine the impact you can have.

When dealing with a caregiving role, your willingness to “hear” the other person’s needs, wants and stories is critical. When we give our listening attention to another, we allow him/her to feel validated. We allow him/her to feel worthy and know that his/her existence counts for something.

We have the chance to do this daily with every conversation we engage in.

This message was at the heart of my session with about 100 attendees at this year’s Wisconsin Network Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias May 18th in the Dells.

One woman in my session wanted to know about how to control the listening time so that she can get to the other items on her work list.

While I advocate that we listen to others as often as possible (and make sure we ask people to hear us as well), this doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your time to another’s stories.

You have the right to set the time parameters. If you only have 10 minutes, tell the person that. And, remind them at the nine-minute mark that they need to wrap up their story.

Good listening is not a passive act where you are taken advantage of because the storyteller wants an audience for an unlimited time. Good listening involves helping the storyteller focus his/her message.

Another woman in my session asked for some advice regarding interrupting a storyteller. I reminded her that interrupting with intention (for the purpose of clarification) is far from being considered rude. It shows respect.

If you interrupt and show that you really haven’t been listening at all, then that is where the rudeness is found. But it is the lack of attention that is rude. A good interruption helps you better understand the speaker and helps the speaker improve his/her storytelling.

Caregivers need to have great patience for their patients. This is especially true when the patient is elderly and challenged by dementia-related issues. When we are caregiving, we have the opportunity to be a patient patient-caregiver.

And, we can change another person’s world.