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To tactfully broach conversations about a loved one’s physical and mental health, experts recommend affirming their autonomy, validating their hesitancy with the health care system, and avoiding shame and blame. While we can’t change others’ behavior, we can encourage — and support — friends and family to take steps toward improving their care.

Be prepared for your loved one to potentially get defensive or shut down the conversation. Remind your loved one that you’re coming from a place of concern but don’t press them to talk any more than they’re comfortable. Your goal is to preserve the relationship and, ideally, empower your relative to make decisions for themself. In worst-case scenarios, your relative might keep you in the dark when something serious occurs, like a car accident or a fall, because they’re worried about being blamed or losing their independence, Adekunle says. Keeping the conversation focused on validation and empathy instead of blame and demands can help avoid this.

Ultimately, your loved one is a person with the right and agency to make choices for themselves. All you can do is tell them how much they mean to you and show up for them when it matters.

Read more in Vox.

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