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How can I get my mother to stop worrying about this non-threatening medical issue?

Answered by David Troxel

June 12, 2014

My mom is in a nursing home and developing a little dementia for the first time. The doctors found that she had a small abdominal aneurysm at 3.2 cm but not enough to worry about now. I made the mistake of telling my mom. She doesn’t understand anything except that she has something inside that is very dangerous.

I have tried to tell her they will keep watch on it, it’s not big enough to cause any problem now, but she is convinced that it is making her sick and weak and that she is going to have to have surgery in the next few weeks, which is totally not true. How do I communicate the truth about this situation to her?

Your mom has fixated on this health issue for now, but with her dementia will likely begin to “forget” the situation. You can help in this process by responding to her questions and concerns directly but with a positive emotional style. For example, respond to her truthfully but say, “Mom, you know our family is made of tough stuff—we need to begin planning your 100th birthday!” If she senses your optimism her concerns will begin to fade.

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