With difficult people, solutions aren't easy Seminar offers ways to cope ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

July 14, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

Evelyn Slater, 75, is determined to learn how to deal with difficult men, "just in case another one should come along," she says.

That's why the widow from Odenton got a front row seat yesterday at the O'Malley Senior Center's presentation of "Dealing with Difficult People," a seminar sponsored by North Arundel Hospital Professional Center.

"My husband drove me crazy the last three years of his life," said Mrs. Slater, laughing. "If I should meet someone else, I want to be prepared."

Joyce Anderson, employee action coordinator from North Arundel, described the 10 most aggravating people -- including the Whiner, the Know-All and the Bump on the Log -- for Mrs. Slater and 30 or so others.

"We all know some of these characters," Mrs. Anderson said. "It's just learning to live and deal with them. We need to try to understand why people act the way they do."

Mrs. Anderson said seniors, especially, have to deal with many difficult people, "whether it's a retired husband or the sons and daughters they live with. And the stress [of] dealing with these people becomes greater considering the stress in their own lives -- losing their homes, losing the ability to drive or losing a husband or wife."

Ann Marie Remillard, activities director at the O'Malley Center, said she asked North Arundel to present the seminar because she had noticed that some of the seniors were having health problems resulting from having to deal with difficult people.

And most of those difficult people are at home, she said.

Mrs. Anderson, who encourages exercise as a way to cope with the stress associated with dealing with such people, led the seniors in an eight-second breathing exercise designed to teach them how to relax.

She also told the seniors that sometimes the only way to cope with the difficult people they encounter is through a counselor.

"When all else fails and you can't seem to cope, I say, from a counselor's point of view, that therapy helps," she said.

Ella Schmeltz, 77, said she is lucky enough not to have difficult people in her life. "Everyone gets along with everyone because we try," she said.

She encouraged her friends to do what she does: "Just listen to what they have to say and try to help them. And if that doesn't work, just walk away."

For more information on the "Dealing with Difficult People" workshop, call the North Arundel Hospital Professional Center at 787-4000.

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