5 Simple Ways to Communicate in Awkward Situations

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Caregivers and family can find it difficult to communicate in awkward situations.
The reason could be as simple as stubborn wills. More likely, it involves Alzheimer’s,  dementia or other medical issues including reactions to certain medications. When words are gone or memory fails, even for a short period of time, we must learn other ways to communicate so people will feel valued and loved.

Read John’s story: can you relate?
John quickly crossed the road to avoid an encounter with a couple. His long-time friend was suffering memory loss and would not know him. When confronted later, John admitted, “I was uncomfortable; I didn’t know how to react and didn’t want anyone to feel embarrassed.” The end result was worse than embarrassment; the couple felt rejected and hurt.

1. Always take time to acknowledge someone you meet in public.
Greeting the hurting couple above with a handshake and sincere smile would have boosted their confidence, encouraged and helped them cope in an otherwise awkward situation. Depending on the circumstances, John could have offered to carry their bags, buy them a cup of coffee, or simply promise to pray faithfully for them.

2. Acknowledge each person you meet in a home you visit.
Jenny was caring for her elderly deaf aunt. On my first visit, the aunt was in her wheelchair in the middle of the room. Before sitting down for our visit, I went to the frail, little woman whom I had not met before. With a broad smile, she took my outstretched hands and gave them a good squeeze. Jenny and I would have plenty of time for our visit; her aunt needed someone to notice she was there, too.

3. Find creative ways to communicate non-verbally.
After driving hours after work to visit us, our son would always go directly to Grandma’s chair without a word to anyone else. Her quiet little world suddenly became the queen’s palace as he smiled and hugged on her for awhile. “Would you like a candy bar, Grandma?” The excitement mounted as he slowly unwrapped a little Hershey bar for her. There are no words to describe the very real, very intense “conversation” that followed as he made sure Grandma knew she was loved.

4. Accept the situation as it is; not as you wish it were.
When Mother said to me, “I am not your mother”, I had to accept the fact that, in her mind, I was a stranger caring for her. Whether she knew me as her daughter or not was not the primary issue at the time. She needed to know the person taking care of her loved her; that she was in a safe environment. (More about this account in my book, MY MOTHER MY CHILD.)

5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
If you couldn’t talk or express yourself, how would you feel. How could a visitor or family member help you feel a part of the family? How would you want to be greeted? What could someone do to show you that you had value?

A need for acceptance is built inside each of us. We long to please, to be a part of the activity in our surroundings. We need to feel loved.

Experience has taught me, when feelings surface of being lonesome, unloved, or left out, all I need do is find someone to love on a bit. Jesus said, “Love one another.” I trust you will find someone today needing a big hug and a smile and share with them. It’s contagious.


P.S. For more great tips and helps, you will benefit from the discussion guides in the latest edition of MY MOTHER MY CHILD. Click here for preview.

Caregivers Simple Valentine Tips and Fun Recipe


Caregivers Simple Valentine tips can actually ease strain on a busy caregiver.  Has your Caregiving Duties List replaced your Valentine’s Must Do List; are you left with shattered holiday plans?  Don’t give up! Let me encourage you with 3 caregivers simple Valentine tips to show love and a fun, simple recipe for family and friends.

Decorating does not mean dragging out boxes of “stuff”! Simple tip #1 shows you how.

#1 Holidays were always a time to decorate; I enjoyed celebrating the seasons. Now with no time for storing decorations (and no place to put them with all the equipment and such around), I still decorate—more simply. It’s amazing what a tiny red sticker heart will say on our glasses, cups and napkins. A cute flower or bear sticker on the mirror takes seconds and speaks volumes.

No time or money for cards or gifts? Not a problem.

#2 Plan to spread the love all over town. Cut a few sheets of heavy paper into 2” x 3” pieces, add stickers and a Scripture or simply write “have a blessed day”. Hand them out to the checkers, waiters, passersby; the list can be as long as you want. Can’t do that? Why not carry a little bag of hard candies to give away? Add a smile and you both will be lifted up.

My favorite tip; you can do this one!

#3 Write one name on each calendar day in February that you would like to contact. Just one. If that is too much, make it every other day, but determine to do this. Then follow through each day with a note or call and prayer. Five minutes of your time may be the world to someone else who needs to know they are loved.

The promised fun recipe.

I make this often; great dish to make ahead and take somewhere or have to snack on at home.  Hint at the end will dress it up for the holidays.

Sweets for the Sweet Salad  (original name was Coke Salad—yuk!)

2 pkg. cherry jello

1 lg can crushed pineapple

1 lg can pie cherries (see note below for great option)

1 10oz Coke

½ cup chopped pecans

Draw juice from fruits. Heat juice until almost boiling. Dissolve jello well. Add well-drained fruit and nuts. Pour into 9 x 13 pan or mold. (Rinse pan in cold water first.) Refrigerate. Serves 12 – 14

Great substitution ideas: use fruit punch jello; try sweet black cherries (my favorite); use Pepsi instead of coke (diet works well); try black walnuts.

Hint: Make it special by serving a few generous spoonfuls over angel food cake. Top with whipped cream and a cherry.

Happy February! May you have a great month filled with God’s amazing love and blessings.


Idea! Spread the love by encouraging a friend to sign up for my newsletter (see box to right of above photo)! There are some fantastic new ideas and helpful hints on the horizon!