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Are you the best person to help?

We all want to do the right thing, but sometimes that can mean admitting we’re not the best person for the job.

Try thinking through these three steps to decide how to proceed. 

1. Think about your relationship with the person.

Will your involvement be too stressful for them or for you? Will you or they get upset or angry? Will they give you the full picture?

Because you know them so well, it can sometimes be harder to talk calmly with the people you care about most. You might feel they're being:

  • irritable
  • demanding
  • stubborn
  • uncooperative.

However, it's worth remembering that they might be thinking the same things about you!

Even when concerns are well-intentioned, it's worth bearing in mind that no one enjoys being told how to live their life. So ask yourself whether you're able to really try to see things from the other person's point of view and respect their opinions - even if you don't agree with them. 

“They can be proud and self-reliant to the extent that it stops them from accepting assistance even when they really need it.”  

A concerned relative

2. Would another perspective be helpful?

Sometimes, people who aren't so close to the situation can be the best people to help. They may be able to see things from a perspective you haven't considered, or help move conversations forward if you've been talking in circles for some time.

This can be especially true if the person you want to talk to is someone who has looked after you, like a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. There's a change in the relationship which can be difficult.

It might be helpful to involve a trusted friend or family member who is not so close to you or the situation.

“Often it becomes reverse parenting, which isn’t easy on both sides. Neither of you likes it.”

A concerned relative

3. Consider asking a professional for advice

People with training and experience who work with older people regularly, like occupational therapists, physiotherapists, doctors or nurses, can give you expert help and advice.

Age UK can also provide information and advice about a wide range of practical topics to do with age and later life. 

Consulting professionals doesn't mean giving up control or admitting defeat – they're there to work with all of you and will promote the rights of the person you're worried about.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

If you've taken these steps and are ready to talk to the person you're worried about, it's worth spending some time planning how you're going to have that first conversation.

Let's recap

  1. It's OK if you decide you might not be the best person to talk to the person you're worried about.
  2. Involving someone neutral can sometimes give you all some space.
  3. Professionals are here to help you and the person you're worried about.

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Last updated: Nov 05 2019

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