Author Topic: How to Politely Correct an Elder?  (Read 7547 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #30 on: June 19, 2013, 09:34:05 AM »
I want to be corrected. I want to be coddled physically, not mentally.

Admittedly, I'm 20 years younger than she is, but if I am in my right mind (if I ever am), I'm sure I will still want to get the facts straight. My dad did when he was 92.


Here is one difference that I think it sort of important:

The OP told us (in one of her later posts):

Quote
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'.

And again, I think people have given options--but it just seems a total waste of time. MIL is not going to chance; she's always been the sort of person who would vaguely remember the numbers but say them anyway.

LadyL

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2013, 09:39:05 AM »
Maybe the issue is that she cares what other people think.  Are you trying to help her save face for her own sake?
 

This to me is the crux of it. You can't be the proxy for someone else's feelings. If she is the type to be embarrassed, by all means gently correct her. If she is unlikely to care then let it go. Sounds like she is still a fully functional adult cognitively speaking, she can run her own social interference.

Thipu1

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2013, 11:30:56 AM »
Thanks to everyone.  You've given us plenty to consider.

I agree that the corrections in my original post were trivial.  The corrections were gentle and didn't put a damper on the gathering at all.  MIL was relieved to learn that a single University in Beijing did not graduate 7 million students this year. 

There's a larger problem of which this only a part.  MIL is sane but very credulous.  She will read and believe all sorts of odd political, medical and societal posts she receives in her Email or sees on the Net. 

She is certain that women in India successfully manage their cancers by drinking lots of vinegar.  She is also sure that every young woman who enrolls in a certain University will be raped in her Freshman year.  We won't even go near the Conspiracy theories and the rewriting of history.       

We're all concerned that beliefs like this  could get her into real trouble somewhere along the line and refer her to sites like Snopes when we hear about them.  We're even more concerned about beliefs she has that we haven't heard about.

I realize this is a problem that goes well beyond the limits of E-Hell.  I put out the original post to ask for acceptable ways of dealing with small things as a way of diplomatically dealing with larger issues. 

 

Winterlight

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2013, 11:55:17 AM »
I'd Snopes anything really out there for her and let the minor stuff go.
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BeagleMommy

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2013, 11:58:29 AM »
Thipu, I have a cousin who believes all the conspiracy theories as well (even when they contradict each other).  It's not just an elderly thing.

I think as long as she's not forgetting vital information (e.g. where she lives, names of close relatives, etc.) you don't need to worry.  Gently correcting her is fine.

Roe

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2013, 12:13:18 PM »
Wait, she's 90?  Yeah, I'd let it go.  Even the conspiracy theories.  Or I'd gently say "I don't know about that" and just beandip. 

It really isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things, esp if she's 90 as people are quite forgiving.

Lynn2000

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2013, 12:27:31 PM »
Just speaking generally, I usually ask myself these questions when I encounter someone with far-out views:

1) Is this new behavior for them?
2) Am I actually responsible for their behavior?
3) Could this behavior hurt them or someone else?

Since MIL has always been like this, and being your MIL you might reasonably feel somewhat responsible for her, that leaves #3. If she believes Obama is literally the Biblical Anti-Christ (actual theory from someone I know), her believing that probably isn't going to hurt anyone. If she feels his presidency means the End of Days is nigh and she ought to spend all her money before the world ends, that could harm her and her descendents, and someone should step in.

Regarding the dementia aspect, what I imagine is that the health professionals monitoring her would ask the family if this was new behavior for her, and when they said no, they would exempt it from the list of mental illness symptoms. So to me, this doesn't really rise to the level of what she says harming her.

If people around her think she's daffy for saying these things... well, she's 90 years old and in her right mind, she's probably gotten bad reactions before and has decided that it's important to her to keep on saying these things, despite the perception. In other words, if she was really concerned about people thinking she was daffy, she would stop saying non-mainstream things at all (as long as she has the mental faculties to make that decision).

We had a thread recently about ways to beandip relatives with wacky, often offensive conspiracy theories; it had some good ideas about how to redirect the conversation, if what she's saying upsets other people. There's certainly no need to let her dominate the conversation with topics that are hurtful; someone can swoop in and change the subject, without subtlety if necessary.
~Lynn2000

JeanFromBNA

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2013, 03:21:40 PM »
If you want confirmation that your Grandmother is not alone in her preference for tinfoil hats and misunderstood measurements, just look at You Tube for any of the man on the street interviews that question people's knowledge about common topics like national capitols, political leaders, and national news. 

I find that misunderstanding abstract measurements like you've mentioned is really pretty common. I'll bet that most people don't know approximately what elevation that they're at right now.

Your Grandmother at 90 years old is still interested in subjects outside of her immediate sphere; this is encouraging.  Sometimes the older you get, the more isolated you become, and your world and your worldview gets smaller, to the detriment of all concerned.

TootsNYC

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #38 on: June 19, 2013, 03:32:21 PM »
Thipu, all your examples seem to show that your MIL *is* actually a confused woman. So there's no reason to correct her in order to "fix" other people's perceptions of her--their perceptions would be totally accurate.

Here's the only thing I think you should worry about:

Quote
3) Could this behavior hurt them or someone else?

I noticed this:

Quote
MIL was relieved to learn that a single University in Beijing did not graduate 7 million students this year. 

If your MIL's mistaken beliefs cause her distress (like if she feels that China's sheer size threatens the U.S. and this makes her anxious), by all means, speak up right in the moment and say, "Oh, MIL, you must have misread--China's a big country, but that's way too large a number. Want me to check it for you?"

Otherwise, just leave it.

Luci

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2013, 04:42:31 PM »
I want to be corrected. I want to be coddled physically, not mentally.

Admittedly, I'm 20 years younger than she is, but if I am in my right mind (if I ever am), I'm sure I will still want to get the facts straight. My dad did when he was 92.


Here is one difference that I think it sort of important:

The OP told us (in one of her later posts):

Quote
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'.

And again, I think people have given options--but it just seems a total waste of time. MIL is not going to chance; she's always been the sort of person who would vaguely remember the numbers but say them anyway.

I was answering the tone of the thread, which seemed to me to be going in the direction of "They are old and it doesn't matter any more", which made me very, very sad, and I hope I misinterpreted some of what I read. Not everyone said that, of course.

I've only known two people who really 'lost it' before they were in their nineties, and I come from a long-lived large family.

And then I answered the initial question of how to correct someone.

The OP has advice and responded to that advice in her own way. I hope if I reach that age I will be deemed wise enough to be corrected and have my opinion matter. Every case is different, and the amount of confrontation appropriate is different.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2013, 05:06:12 PM »
I was answering the tone of the thread, which seemed to me to be going in the direction of "They are old and it doesn't matter any more", which made me very, very sad, and I hope I misinterpreted some of what I read. Not everyone said that, of course.


The way I read the responses, the age really didn't factor in so much as the concept of "why does the OP care so much that the MIL's facts were wrong?"  To me, I would treat everyone the same - if it is important to correct, I would correct it.  If not, I wouldn't.  To me, the situations presented did not require correction, or could be easily handled with language suggested by other posters (along the lines of "not sure about 10,000 feet but pretty high!" or "I heard 7 million in China as a whole, but yeah, that's a lot!").

cass2591

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2013, 05:56:16 PM »
Quote
We're all concerned that beliefs like this  could get her into real trouble somewhere along the line and refer her to sites like Snopes when we hear about them.  We're even more concerned about beliefs she has that we haven't heard about.

What kind of trouble could she get into? My dad is elderly and legally blind from macular degeneration. He can read, albeit slowly, using a magnifying screen and sends away for all sorts of miracle cures. Sure, it costs a few hundred bucks a year but he can afford it. Now, when he got the idea to go for a "cure" that cost 10,000$ and other really hinky things, we intervened. Luckily, my sister is his POA since he can't read well enough to manage his bills, etc., so we know his financial status.
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Thipu1

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #42 on: June 19, 2013, 06:21:38 PM »
We're concerned because some of the ethnic views she comes up with are absolutely vile.  The idea that Obama is the Anti-Christ is mild by comparison.  When MIL forwarded one of these to everyone in the family, a normally shy Grand Daughter in-law took her to task for it in a forceful and eloquent Email.  Other family members came to the support of GDIL.  MIL backed down.     

 MIL is relatively independent now but she won't always be so. We worry what will happen when her well-being may be in the hands of some of  the people she so reviles.

We know we can't really change her but we hope we can convince her to be a bit more circumspect about these opinions.  That's where E-Hell may be able to help us.     

Yvaine

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2013, 06:26:30 PM »
We're concerned because some of the ethnic views she comes up with are absolutely vile.  The idea that Obama is the Anti-Christ is mild by comparison.  When MIL forwarded one of these to everyone in the family, a normally shy Grand Daughter in-law took her to task for it in a forceful and eloquent Email.  Other family members came to the support of GDIL.  MIL backed down.     

If she's saying racist things, then that's really different from confusing some numbers she read in a random news article (I've surely done the latter, and I'm 35). It sounds like the GDIL and others handled it well.

AnnaJ

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Re: How to Politely Correct an Elder?
« Reply #44 on: June 19, 2013, 07:01:38 PM »
We're concerned because some of the ethnic views she comes up with are absolutely vile.  The idea that Obama is the Anti-Christ is mild by comparison.  When MIL forwarded one of these to everyone in the family, a normally shy Grand Daughter in-law took her to task for it in a forceful and eloquent Email.  Other family members came to the support of GDIL.  MIL backed down.     

 MIL is relatively independent now but she won't always be so. We worry what will happen when her well-being may be in the hands of some of  the people she so reviles.

We know we can't really change her but we hope we can convince her to be a bit more circumspect about these opinions.  That's where E-Hell may be able to help us.     

I've been there - luckily most facilities and private care employees are familiar with this problem and will treat it professionally.  It's unfortunate that this happens - I think all of us here would love to see prejudice disappear - but in my experience caregivers tend to develop an ability to look past the behavior and treat the person.