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How to deal with a bone crushing handshake


Question: My husband has dementia. Whenever he shakes hands with someone he squeezes too hard. Most times, my asking him to be more gentle falls on deaf ears. Any suggestions?

Dr. Amy: Seeing people and socializing is important for our mental health, so it's great you are getting out together. Getting caught in a bone crushing handshake, on the other hand, really hurts. As we get older our tissues thin, so it’s especially true for seniors. Since asking your husband does not seem to work, I wonder if you can try warning friends and acquaintances in advance so they can take preventive action. If they are coming over for coffee or dinner, remind them on the phone about his grip and suggest they:

·         say they hurt their finger and prefer not to shake hands

·         go in for a hug before he can shake hands

·         offer the index and third finger only and not the whole hand, since it doesn’t hurt to have these squeezed together

·         try a “high five” instead of a handshake

If he is meeting someone for the first time, you might quickly say, “My husband has quite the grip, so you might want to just give him your first two fingers.”

It is possible that he may see a pattern of people avoiding his handshake and adjust his grip—or he may not. If not, forewarned is forearmed!

I wonder if other readers have ideas to share?

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