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Dangers of Saying, “This Will Be Easy!”

When talking to either children or older adults, people frequently predict, “This will be easy for you.” Suggesting that the skill will come easily, hopes to bolster confidence. We forget that a skill we spent years developing felt challenging when our fingers were clumsy, and the steps were unclear. Likewise, when fingers that once moved with agility become clumsy in old age, the same need for dignity applies to a senior citizen.

Unfortunately, if the task becomes more difficult than expected, the words seem to imply What’s wrong with you? You must be stupid. These unkind words may never be spoken, yet embarrassment remains if the child or older person feels foolish.

Instead, accept the person’s uncertainty about a task by saying, “This task often challenges folks. Many others struggle to master this. If you don’t succeed at first, please ask for help.” Consider other ways to dignity for older individuals.

· After seeing an aging man fall, say, “It must be frightening to fall often. How can we help?”

· “It’s okay that you have fears about money. Everyone finds this difficult at times. You and I can go over the numbers as many times as you want.”

· “Reading the menu can be confusing. Would you like to tell me which foods you enjoy the most so I can highlight them for you?

· “I am not in a hurry. Maybe I can answer some of your questions.”

· “Talking to your new doctor can feel daunting. Would you like for me to write some of your medical questions before your meeting tomorrow?

An older woman recently confided, “When my children were young, bills would arrive in my mailbox. Once a month I would write checks, address the envelopes, put stamps on, and enjoy the satisfaction of completing a task. Today, with bills being paid electronically, I frequently get confused. What young people find easy, creates stress for me.

Whether considering a child or a senior citizen, tasks that seem easy to you may be overwhelming to a child with a lack of experience or to an older individual with physical impairment or memory challenges.

Keep in mind that the elderly man who recalls being in the National Honor Society, or Valedictorian of his graduating class, must find it even more painful than most when mental losses hit. Your job, to preserve the dignity of another human, remains critically important.



Thank you so well written and useful. So important Barb to help our generations relate lovingly and realistically. Thank you, Patty Stephens

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