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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

What not to say to an isolated older adult


July 23, 2018, by

It’s often hard to know what to say to people in our lives who are caring for a family member or grieving the death of someone close to them. We see them struggling, but we also don’t want to intrude. We may offer well-intentioned comments, but sometimes our words may unintentionally reinforce their feelings of loneliness.
An article in Next Avenue takes us inside the experiences of two people who’ve struggled with loneliness and offers practical tips for breaking through isolation. 
MaryKay Kubota found that friends offered her the standard “Let me know what you need” after the unexpected death of her husband at 49, but mostly they just left her alone. “Nobody knew what to say in the situation,” she recalled. Even with two children still at home, she felt very much alone in her grief.
Jolyon Hallows became isolated during his years of caring for his wife with Parkinson’s disease. After her diagnosis, friends said “we’ll call later” but never did. “As his wife’s disease progressed,” author Michelle Seitzer writes, “both were robbed of conversation and communication, and he was left to watch the woman he loved disappear over two decades.”
The article lists four things not to say to someone in a situation like Kubota’s or Hallows’s and recommends what to do instead.
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