I took my father to the doctor the other day, and the doctor talked directly to him. He came in and said, “How are you?” and to my surprise, Dad said, “Just fine.” Dad seemed genuinely happy to be addressed, so I mimicked the doctor and included Dad (using the plural “we”) when we asked some questions that had come up since our last visit. Is this okay to do?
-Had A Breakthrough
Absolutely! The first thing I have to say is: good for the doctor for keeping your dad in the conversation. This issue is very common and is addressed with Absolute Number 9: Never Condescend, Instead Encourage and Praise. It is so important that we not talk about our loved one, right in front of them, as if they are not even there. This can lead to angry outbursts or just an overall bad mood for your Dad!
To encourage others to keep your Dad in the loop, what you need to do is make certain that you and your dad are next to each other, and both facing the doctor or other person when he or she enters the room. When your dad answers the doctor, you agree with him by saying, “Dad is doing great in so many ways but we have a few questions about things that have come up since our last visit.” This keeps your dad in the loop as he plays an active role in at least part of his care, gets your questions answered, and makes the doctor feel that both of you are having your needs met. This is clearly just as simple as literally positioning yourself and your dad together, and restating what your father is saying in first-person plural. This is truly a win-win situation for everyone involved.