In my last blog, Indicators of change, I noted specific signs to look for in the health and safety in an older adult indicating the need for an intervention. Once information has been gathered and assessed, the next step is to communicate your concerns with the older adult in a manner which will be accepted and well received.
Here are 4 tips to achieve a successful outcome when change is needed:
Research solutions to the issues at hand before having a conversation. Some examples include:
- If the primary physician has assessed issues of cognitive decline, the next step is to research and contact neurologists.
- If weight loss is due to meal preps being too burdensome, research local Meals On Wheels, restaurants and/or markets that deliver prepared meals.
- If driving is no longer safe, research local transportation options.
- If there is need for help in the home or the person would be best served in a residence, get referrals, gather information, visit facilities if that is a possible option.
Each area of concern must have solutions before sharing concerns.
Create an engaging and safe atmosphere so the conversation is a discussion, not an interrogation.It is important to choose a place, time of day and a person who the older adult is most open to engage in this conversation. This person can be a relative, friend, clergy or professional. It is important to let the individual know your goal is to assure their continued safety, health and independence. To maintain an engaging discussion it is necessary to welcome their input on solutions.
Always share your concerns with concrete examples and avoid being critical or judgmental. For example, you may mention “I see that your clothing looks big on you and I am concerned that you are losing weight”. Another example could be, “you have always kept your car in great condition, and I am concerned about the dents”.
This conversation must also include asking the individual if they have experienced any changes or have concerns. Do dismiss or minimize their concerns. To acheive the desired outcome, their concerns must be addressed.
Be patient and prepared to have multiple conversations before changes can be implemented. It’s common that individuals will deny there is a need to make changes. This is especially true for individuals with dementia as their cognitive impairment interferes with their ability to notice changes.
This is a challenging process as noticing decline in a loved one is upsetting and having to take action is often understandably overwhelming. In my practice I offer guidance, solutions, and local resources geared to achieving a successful outcome for all. For more help and resources Contact Me