3 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Facing a Health Concern

Posted on August 10th, by Mark Winter in Aging, Alzheimer's, Care Manager, Caregiver Careers, Caregiver Support Tip. No Comments

3 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Facing a Health Concern

When a friend or loved one is facing a health concern, it’s important to know what not to say.

Have you ever walked in to the office or a get-together with friends or family and had a person say to you with great concern, “You really look tired today!” Although you may have been feeling pretty perky before that interaction, without warning you may suddenly actually feel exhausted and rundown. The words we use with each other and the manner by which we interpret them are meaningful. And when speaking with people who have a long-term health concern, it’s very important to thoughtfully think about what to express, and maybe more importantly, what NOT to say, that can help the person feel his or her best.

While we are surely well meaning, there are specific comments which are better left unsaid. Blurting out a less-than-sensitive remark, according to Mindy Beth Lipson, a Phoenix psychologist, occurs because, “I think people are just scared and nervous and don’t know how to respond. There might be several reasons, the first being it brings up their own mortality. Some people also just lack empathy.”

Below are several comments to remove from your own vernacular when communicating with those dealing with a medical or health concern:

  1. “My friend had a similar diagnosis and was ill for months.” Sharing unfavorable accounts about an individual with a similar diagnosis is a guaranteed way to bring the person’s spirits down. Rather, bear in mind each individual deals with health conditions in different ways, and concentrate on the positives the person you’re speaking with has achieved.
  2. “If you’d only stopped smoking (or exercised; or followed balanced and healthy diet; etc.) this couldn’t have happened.” It’s nearly impossible to determine if the result might have been different if healthier options happened to be made, and there’s no benefit in playing the “what if” card. Instead, concentrate on giving the support and empathy the person needs today, and leave any thoughts of judgment at the door.
  3. “Do you recall…?” Specific to those with dementia or other cognitive impairment, memory prompts similar to this can contribute to the frustration and agitation already experienced. Sharing stories from times gone by just as if they’re brand-new is an excellent solution to engage the person instead.

Your very best bet is always to give the individual the ability to discuss (or not to talk about) about his / her experiences and thoughts, hold the individual’s hand if it’s welcome, provide a pretty bouquet of flowers or other small gift or treat, and extend your affectionate, loving presence and encouragement. 

For more care tips, and for hands-on help with skilled care within the comfort of home, call on Hired Hands Homecare, the experts in home and respite care in Pleasanton and nearby areas. We are able to offer expert, caring assistance for individuals confronted with a health crisis to bring comfort and peace through companionship, assistance with meals and housework, transportation to medical appointments and procedures, running errands, and much more. Email or call us at (866) 940-4343 to let us know how we can help. 

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