General Etiquette > Family and Children

How to Politely Correct an Elder?

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Also, really, the grandkids won't remember the details of her being wrong just because she's wrong. Will they remember 10,000 feet above sea level?

But they *will* remember that you all were willing to correct her on something that really didn't matter. And THAT will damage their perception of her far more than her un-carefully-used numbers will.

Just focus on the gist of it--"yeah, the altitude here is really high."

and if any of the kids do realize it, isn't the lesson supposed to be: "we cut people some slack when they're talking off the top of their heads--all the more so if they're getting a little older and maybe mentally tired"?

That's the lesson I'd prefer to send my kids, if I were one of the aunts & uncles there. I'd really hate for you to send the message that it's necessary to correct people all the time.

So she made two mistakes with numbers at a time when she's excited and happy.  The seven million mistake could easily have been because she skimmed the article.

She may well have known she made a mistake at the time but because she's just making conversation she didn't bother to correct herself.

Leave it alone.

Depending on why she is getting these things wrong, telling her what the actual facts are isn't going to mean she is going to remember and impart them correctly in the future.
Not to get into actual medical advice , but something I learned when my mom was ill that really surprised me was that the doctor told us that sometimes a bladder infection in an elderly person can manifest itself in ways that seem like dementia or other cognitive impairment.

When noticing troubling symptoms like this, having a doctor evaluate one's health is always a good idea.  It's never a good idea to assume that troubling things we notice in our elderly loved ones is just a normal part of the aging process.

It might be, it might not.  The doctor's office can also be a good place to find resources for the best way to deal with these problems.

For things like this, it's really not important to correct them.  I wouldn't, I'd just let it slide.  It really isn't worth it IMO, it's not harming anyone.

First of all, we weren't  piling on her.  The questions about what she said were presented in a quiet way by another family or two over a cup of tea. 

'Grandma, here's what the brochure says about the resort'.

'Please Grandma, look at this article again and tell me what it says'.

MIL has always been a little dramatic and ditsy.  When she was in her 60s, people just shrugged these things off as, 'That's just the way she is'.  Now that she's in her mid 90s, we're concerned that people where she lives may begin to believe that MIL suffers from Dimentia.  That is why we need to be very gentle and polite when these things come up again.   


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