Dear Abby: My mother is in her early 70s and was recently diagnosed with dementia. My family and I are in the process of looking at assisted-living facilities.
The problem we're facing is well-meaning neighbors and old family friends who say that Mom is "too young" to consider assisted living as an option. This is causing her (and me) much undue stress. She has lived in her home for more than 30 years and has been alone since Dad passed away 10 years ago.
Abby, none of these people understand that my mother forgets to take her medication, loses her checkbook, has gotten lost driving -- or forgets why she's in her car in the first place.
They don't realize that performing simple household tasks like laundry and cooking meals has become a burden for Mom and exhausts her.
It has been a difficult decision for my mother to agree to leave her home and accept the assistance she needs -- and some people are making it harder. What can I say to these folks to change their attitude about our decision and encourage them to support my mother with love and acceptance as we move forward? She needs that now more than ever.
-- Want What's Best for Mom in New York
Dear Want What's Best: Sit down with these well-meaning people and explain exactly what you have told me. It is important that they understand your mother is no longer the person she once was, as much as you all might wish it. Dementia is a disease that affects not only the sufferers, but everyone who loves them. I'm sure these people will be less resistant once they fully understand what is going on. Be sure to encourage them to visit her and remain a part of her life.
Family needs counseling
Dear Abby: My wife, "Bonnie," and I have been married for 25 years and have two great kids. When our daughter left for college three years ago, Bonnie began to "rediscover herself." In the process, she became friendly with "Roger," a 35-year-old single man from our church. I found a picture of him hidden in Bonnie's Bible.
Roger lived with our family for two weeks before moving to a neighboring city. Every morning when he was here, Bonnie got up early to make his breakfast and was at the door to say her "goodbyes." She has never done that for me.
A few months ago, Roger contacted our 19-year-old daughter when he was passing through her college town and took her to dinner. Afterward they stopped by her apartment, and Roger kissed her on the lips, telling her it would be "their secret." As soon as our daughter was able to convince him to leave, she called us to tell us what happened.
My problem is that Bonnie has forgiven Roger, but my daughter, son and I have not. My wife continues to see him on occasion, although always in the company of others. However, in paying our bills, I have discovered that she calls his cell phone up to 70 times per month. Needless to say, I do not want Roger in our home. Bonnie refuses to understand why the children and I feel so unforgiving toward him. What do you think, Abby?
-- Empty in New England
Dear Empty: It's time for you and Bonnie to get some pastoral counseling. It appears that Bonnie has a crush on Roger, and Roger has the hots for your daughter. If Bonnie refuses to go to counseling, go without her, and don't be afraid to name names.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.