As a traditional time for family gatherings, the holidays also can be a good time to hold meaningful conversations about helping out (or being helped by) loved ones – especially if a family member is experiencing memory loss or other signs of dementia. In a GRBJ November 2018 article, Steve Starnes, CFP® offers practical advice on how families can approach care-giving conversations, while remaining sensitive to the delicate challenges involved.
In his GRBJ article, “Money and memory loss: Talking with family over the holidays,” Steve explains, “if you’re worried about a friend or family member, having a conversation about the memory loss and its impact is one of the most loving things you can do.”
But how do you approach the conversation? Steve suggests finding a private, comfortable place – i.e., not necessarily at a greater group gathering. Remain sensitive to the fact that a loved one experiencing memory loss is likely to be frightened and embarrassed about it. Most of all, they may be afraid they’ll lose their independence if they reach out to others with their concerns. Also be aware that not all memory loss translates to dementia. It could be something as simple as a prescription medication in need of adjustment.
Once a comfort level is established, topics of conversation can range from offering to assist with medical appointments, to helping to organize financial affairs. Steve offers a number of helpful hints for both. He also emphasizes: “Your role is to help your family do what they want, not what you would do instead.”
That’s good advice year-round, but perhaps especially helpful during the holiday season.