Dear Readers: Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all, especially our veterans in VA hospitals around the country. And a special thanks to those readers who have taken the time to visit the vets and send valentines. Bless you.
Dear Annie: My mom has now reached an age where it is difficult for her to continue living alone. My brothers and I are all close, although I am the only one living in the area. I spend more time with Mom in a few weeks than they do in an entire year.
We recently decided it’s time for Mom to transition to assisted living and planned a family conference call. The call was originally just going to be us siblings, but I thought it might be nice for Mom to join us at the beginning so they could speak to her and see how she’s doing.
When Mom hung up, one of my brothers blew up at me for letting her know we were having such a call. He repeatedly shouted at me that this was to be a secret. I cannot fathom why Mom shouldn’t know. She trusts us with her care and it never occurred to me to keep her out of the process. If Mom were mentally incapacitated, I could understand, but she is not. Am I wrong?— Worried Sibling
Dear Sibling: No. It’s always best if the parent can be part of the decision-making, and we don’t understand why your brothers want things kept secret. It’s possible they feel the conversation would depress her or that she might resent suggestions of incompetence. In order to avoid a rift, consider having an impartial third party explain the necessity of Mom’s participation. Her doctor or clergyman can talk to your brothers, and you also can get help through the Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org) at 1-800-445-8106.
Dear Annie: I’m 60 years old and my boyfriend, “Mervin,” is 68. We have such wonderful chemistry and can talk on the phone for hours and never run out of interesting topics. Sex is perfect.
The problem is, Mervin was raised without affection and has trouble being demonstrative. I have multiple sclerosis and need his support, not only emotionally, but physically — especially when walking. I sometimes trip and he refuses to hold my hand. Even if I didn’t have MS, I would expect to walk along hand in hand with my boyfriend. He says it is “sissy.”
I feel neglected and could never go through life this way. Can he change? — With Him but Alone
Dear With Him: Someone who would rather let you trip on the sidewalk than hold your hand is putting his needs above yours. If Mervin truly cares for you, he will make an effort to work on his inability to show affection. Otherwise, you must decide if he’s worth it as is because, unfortunately, things are not going to get any easier.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Worried in the South,” the 62-year-old bipolar woman who is concerned about her family’s reaction to her illness. I manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the long, dark winter months, for which I take medication. There are days when I have to force myself to get up. After the birth of my son, I had a severe case of postpartum depression. It took over a year to recover.
The best example she can be to her loved ones is to tell them about the disorder, educate them and let them know how they can support her. This illness is not her fault. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Friends and family need to rally around and not judge her. — Sunny in Vermont
Dear Sunny: It is best if her family can be a source of support and not add to her already stressful life. We hope she will find the courage to discuss her illness openly and educate them.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.14.08