Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My 81-year-old mother lives alone, drives her own car and manages her own finances. Between savings, retirement income and inheritance, she is well fixed. What worries me is that Mom has been enrolled in ballroom dance lessons for several years. These lessons are exorbitantly expensive, costing in the six figures annually. There are multiple lessons each week, as well as competition trips. The instructors, managers and owners of the club flatter Mom and tell her what a wonderful dancer she is. But, Annie, I’ve seen her performances, and she looks lost, doesn’t remember the steps and has no clue what to do next.
I believe this dance studio is taking advantage of her. I spoke to management, but they said it’s none of my business. Mom used to be quite frugal, and I worry that she no longer has the judgment to manage her money. Yet I can’t do anything about it other than wring my hands. She won’t listen to a word I say.
Mom never visits the grandchildren. She has no interest in family activities and has abandoned the things she used to do before she discovered dancing. She had a small stroke two years ago, and her doctor has made numerous appointments with a neurologist, but she always finds a reason to cancel.
If Mom burns through her resources, I will not have the means to help when she can no longer live independently. I am hurt that she lies to me when all I want is to see that she is provided for. — Only Child in Music City
Dear Music City: We’re glad Mom enjoys her dance lessons, and it’s good exercise, but it sounds as if this dance studio may be guilty of financial abuse. Call the Better Business Bureau in your city and find out whether complaints have been registered. Also contact the National Center on Elder Abuse (ncea.aoa.gov) and the Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116) and ask for assistance. Then, when your mother has her next doctor’s appointment, ask if you can go along. Alert the doctor’s office in advance, and request a more extensive exam.
Dear Annie: My father-in-law loves going to yard sales and likes to buy sale items for our home and our four sons. The problem is that we have limited space and don’t need all this junk. The toys tend to have a missing part or be partially broken, and the clothes have stains or holes.
My husband wants to simply accept the items because my father-in-law would otherwise be offended. But it upsets me that they give us so many used items. We just got back from a weeklong visit and were barraged with bags of these things. — Tired of Used Stuff
Dear Tired: Even used junk is a gift that requires a “thank you.” Please accept your father-in-law’s yard sale items with graciousness. He means well. Then throw them away as soon as you see a garbage can, give them to charity, fuse them into a garden sculpture or do whatever else you wish with them.
Dear Annie: “Frustrated in the Midwest,” who doesn’t want her parents to attend her children’s school events, comes across as very self-absorbed. I am 63 and was reared in a generation where we enjoyed our families. We included our parents in our lives. I cherish the memories of them sharing our children’s activities.
I have first-hand knowledge of this “new generation” attitude. My oldest son and daughter-in-law have banned me from seeing my grandchildren. My youngest daughter-in-law is downright rude to me. “Family time” is a thing of the past. If a Grandma wants to show love and concern, she is meddling. Merely calling to see if everyone is OK is intrusive. My generation will be passing away soon, and sadly, these kids will wake up too late, if at all. — One Frustrated Grandma
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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 8.28.12