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Carolyn Hax: Not visiting a mom with Alzheimer’s

Dear Carolyn: My mom has Alzheimer’s and lives in an assisted-living facility. I have siblings who never go to see her, and they say she doesn’t recognize them or wouldn’t remember that they were there. Are those legitimate or logical excuses? – G.

A: If the whole point of visiting were for your mom to know that her children cared for her, then maybe they would have a point. And only maybe, because they can’t know what she thinks or whether some familiarity cuts through the Alzheimer’s fog.

But recognition is hardly the whole point of visiting. For one thing, visitors are the ones who hold the facility staff members accountable. By not showing up, your siblings might as well say they don’t care how clean or safe or well-fed their mother is. At best, their dodging says they do care, but only enough to shove the responsibility off on you.

Whether she recognizes them or not, visitors can bring pleasure to your mother. If she brightens with company, even from people who appear as new to her, then that voids your siblings’ rationale for staying away.

End-of-life care (or indifference) is a last word; no do-overs. Unless Mom was abusive to your siblings, a working conscience won’t let them pretend that this is the best they can do. Unfortunately, you can calmly counter their arguments, be right on all counts and still not dent their determination to blow off visiting her. Speak up, anyway – kindly and firmly – at least once for the record; no one said you had to make it easy for them to lie to themselves.

Obesity afflicts niece, nephew

Dear Carolyn: I am very concerned about my nephew and niece, both clinically obese. Their pediatrician warned years ago that they were at risk of getting diabetes, but every passing year, they get bigger and bigger. They are young enough where their diet is largely controlled by their parents, yet poor nutrition is the culprit here – their diet is full of processed foods.

I don’t understand how parents can see that their kid is twice the size of their classmates and not realize the medical necessity of reversing this alarming pattern of weight gain. After years of keeping silent, I briefly mentioned my concern to one of their parents and was admonished that despite what I continue to observe, they are working on it. How can I help? – E.

A: In spite of what you continue to observe, the parents are aware and working on it. Asked and answered.

You can help these kids by focusing on the people, not the pounds. Peers won’t be the only meanies – society in general can be a blunt, fat-shaming instrument. As such, an aunt/uncle who never loses focus on their humanity is the healthiest role you can play. That means zip it on size, weight and processed foods.