Someone’s health is one of the most private things about them, and when their body takes a turn, they actively avoid discussing this kind of deep vulnerability. The thing is that others notice in no time at all that there’s a problem with their loved ones. What was once private threatens to become public.
If you have noticed the onset of a health issue in your friend or family member, it’s natural to want to talk to your loved one about it. You don’t know if they need further medical help, and you can’t stand this elephant in the room. Though these conversations are important, be thoughtful about how you conduct them. For strategies on having a compassionate discussion, consider these points on how to talk to loved ones about health problems.
Be Tactful About Stigmas
One reason people conceal symptoms is that the health issue they have carries a lot of stigmas. Any conversation would involve divulging details that they don’t ordinarily speak about. Your goal, in many cases, is to emphasize that they are not the only person dealing with these problems. For instance, when broaching the topic of urinary incontinence with them, make it clear that millions of people have some degree of leakage and that there are entire companies that sell quality products to help people like them.
Also, address the stigma head-on, acknowledging it and then offering to talk with them about it whenever they need help. When they know you’re willing to endure discomfort to love them, they’ll entrust you with these conversations more often.
Prioritize Them, Not Yourself
Additionally, keep the focus off yourself when you talk with loved ones about their health problems. It’s true that a parent’s or spouse’s health crisis has a huge impact on your emotional state. You may struggle to avoid crying when you begin to suspect something’s wrong. However, when it comes time to gain clarity, your primary goal is to demonstrate your support for your loved one. Broach the topic when you have a clear head, and avoid anger at all costs—even if they don’t react kindly. You must practice this new, vulnerable level to your relationship before it becomes natural.
Though it’s scary to have these talks, they are important for your loved one’s future health. You may need to keep having these conversations as your loved one continues to conceal things, too. It’s a touchy subject, and it’ll likely take a while before they fully trust you. That’s why having a successful first conversation is so vital.