Three of the toughest tackles in NFL history are Lawrence Taylor's leg-breaking hit on Joe Theismann; Eric Smith and Anquan Boldin's helmet-clashing, bone-fracturing clash; and Sheldon Brown's clean but devastating takedown of Reggie Bush.
But if you think those are tough tackles, just try tackling the issue of dementia when it affects someone near and dear.
That said, don't put it off. Just make it a gentle encounter — for both of you.
Here are the experts' recommendations, step by step:
1. Before you decide to have the conversation, talk to your loved one's doctor. Explain your concerns and arrange a check-up — perhaps for some other condition — so the physician can make a preliminary evaluation. Also, reach out to dementia caregiver groups for advice on broaching the subject. Check out www.alz.org and search for support groups.
2. When bringing up the subject to your loved one, talk about memory problems, not Alzheimer's (you don't have a diagnosis yet). And ask, don't tell. Say, "Have you noticed that you are having some recall problems?"
3. Be patient and let the person participate in discussions and decision-making as much as they want and can.
4. Mention that memory problems can result from medications, vitamin B12 deficiency, and thyroid issues — all of which are reversible. That's why a medical evaluation is important.
5. Allow for some conflict and confusion. The first conversation won't be your last, and you may have to repeat yourself. But together you can find the best path to optimal care.