Things that go “bump” in the night and other terrifying events

Hello everyone:

Do you ever remember being irrationally terrified as a child? Oh, you didn’t think it was irrational at the time, but it was pretty scary just the same. Maybe you were visiting some distant relative and your parents made you sleep in a dark and unfamiliar bedroom. Perhaps you thought that there was a monster in your closet and that it was coming to get you. Maybe your siblings chased you with cats or perhaps a clueless park ranger held out a huge snake and forced you to touch it, saying you couldn’t have lunch or that you couldn’t go home that day until you did.

These are all things that happened to folks I know. Pretty frightening, to a kid. Do you remember how it felt to be little and afraid? Well, there may be someone in your life right now who is facing his or her own terrors.  To you and to me, the fears may seem pretty foolish. To your elderly relative, not so much.

Older folks’ minds sometimes play tricks on them. They think that there is someone hiding under their bed. Or maybe they think that there is a mountain lion outside their bedroom window, waiting to devour them. Or that the soap that they shower with will cause their skin to disintegrate. Or……just about a million other things. These fears are very real to them, just like that dark bedroom was to you when you were little.

It isn’t easy to deal with these fears. You may comfort your mom or dad and then have to do it all over again, five minutes later. The thing we need to keep in mind is that these fears are just as real as that monster in your closet was when you were young. ┬áJust as a cat was so fearful to us so many years ago or that the snake was so gigantic, they face their fears on a daily and moment-by-moment basis. We need to offer our parents reassurance and support, no matter how silly or ridiculous their stories sound to our adult minds.

How do you deal with helping your family member overcome fear? Is there something special you do to allay their concerns? I would love to hear from you.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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