Annie's Mailbox: Mom not interested in having assisted living

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Dear Annie: Our 90-year-old mother’s brain is turning to mush. She was one of the smartest, brightest people we knew, but after years of sitting in her home alone, she is getting duller by the day, and it is not because of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Mom’s lack of socialization is the greatest problem, though she also needs a lot of physical help but is not willing to admit it. I have four siblings, and we have tried everything we can think of to get her home care or into an assisted-living facility, but she’s not interested. We visit, call and do what we can, but we cannot get her to change her living situation.

Mom can afford these services, but she is stingy with her money. We have tried to impress upon her that she has saved for many years “for her old age” and now is the time to spend it, but old habits are hard to break.

Other than the family, no one visits her. Living through the Depression is part of why she won’t use electricity, but she also is suffering from her own personal depression. We’ve worked with agencies for the elderly and have had professional people talk to her, and my sister has offered to let Mom live with her, though that wouldn’t help with the socialization since she’d still be alone most of the day. What else can we do?

— Worried

Dear Worried: Has your mother been evaluated by a geriatric specialist? There may, in fact, be some dementia, and there certainly could be severe depression. If so, it may be time for you to take over the decision-making process regarding her living arrangements. Get a referral from her doctor, or call the Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 or, if you can afford it, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (caremanager.org), 3275 West Ina Road, Suite 130, Tucson, AZ 85741-2198.

Dear Annie: My son is a third-year college student at a prestigious university. Today he was walking on campus and came across a large group of touring high-school kids and their parents. One of the fathers yelled out, “Fag!” My son just kept walking as he always does when this happens.

Yes, my son is gay, but he is also an amazing, bright, loved, admired, respected, dedicated, hardworking, handsome young man. Does this father not see that my son is human just like his and deserves respect? I would like people to just stop and think before they say or do something hurtful to another. Everyone in this world is someone’s son or daughter, sister or brother, mom or dad.

I wonder how this father would feel if his son was yelled at with hate. I bet he would be as heartbroken as I was.

— California

Dear California: We understand immature high schoolers who lack the judgment to behave properly, but an adult, especially one who is escorting a group of teens around, should have the sense to set a better example. We feel sorry for the man’s children, who are being raised by an intolerant moron.

Dear Annie: I suffered from mild depression for most of my life. When I turned 52, I found a wonderful therapist who was quickly able to get to the root of my difficulties. Nine years later, I still have occasional sessions with him.

A few years after I began therapy, I felt I still needed help coping, and my doctor prescribed antidepressants. Life is really sweet now. I could retire, but I’m full of enthusiasm for my work, and my whole family is doing well.

Please continue to tell your readers that it is never too late for help and change. I had many therapists before I found the right one. And please don’t rule out medication without consulting a doctor.

— Enjoying Life

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