The holidays typically bring us together with family and friends that we don’t see on a regular basis. Now that the holidays are over, you may be sitting there re-hashing interactions you had with some of your older loved ones. Maybe they had a bruise on their forehead from a fall, or they forgot the cranberry sauce even after you reminded them.
You might worry that these observations are something to be concerned about. In fact, they may very well be warning signs of difficulties that your loved one is facing.
However, seeing them for just a few hours once every few months is not enough time to make sound judgments. So before you proceed with circling the wagons, pull back on the reins.
Unless you are in their life on a regular basis, you really have no right jumping to conclusions and taking an offensive position. You do, however, have a right to show them respect, love, and concern.
But being concerned needs to be handled properly or you risk embarrassing them or upsetting them to the point that they will not listen or open up to you. Remember that pride and egos are involved.
Start by interacting with them more often. Listen to what they have to say. Hear what fears they have or what makes them happy. Once you have established a closer connection, share your concerns, but don’t attack. It may take several conversations before a breakthrough occurs.
Sometimes using other people as examples is a good way to break the ice. This gives each of you someone else to assess together. This often makes it easier to make the conversation personal.
No matter what you do, it always starts with being a friend who listens but does not judge. If you are truly concerned, you must make an effort to engage with them more frequently. Then you can truly make a difference in their life.
Have you found yourself in this situation? How did you handle it? Please share you experience or question in the comments.
About the Author: Mike Good is founder of Together In This, http://togetherinthis.com/, an online resource helping family members caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Through short, informative articles and easy-to-use tools, such as the Introductory Guide to Alzheimer’s, http://togetherinthis.com/introguide1/, he helps you take control and have peace-of-mind you are doing the right things.
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