Dear Abby: My 83-year-old mother has decided she wants to die. She says she’s miserable, but I think she’s causing her own misery. She has medications to address her physical ailments — none of which are critical. My siblings live in other states. Mom feels it’s a “burden” for them to travel to see her, and she refuses to travel.
Mom is in assisted living and is now refusing to bathe, trying not to eat, and doesn’t want to talk to anyone or have visitors. She’s obviously depressed, but refuses counseling. If she continues being uncooperative, I’m afraid she’ll have to go to a nursing home where they might let her starve herself to death.
One sister says I should force Mom to do fun things, but I don’t know what she wants. We used to go out to eat, but she no longer wants to do that. I have tried to honor Mom’s wishes, but I’m at a loss about what to do for her. Do you have any suggestions?
Almost at Wits’ End
Dear Almost: I have one. You and your siblings should have your mother evaluated by a geriatrician IMMEDIATELY. It’s apparent that she is depressed, but the question is whether she also has something physically wrong with her that is affecting her mental state. Then let the doctor be your guide.
Dear Abby: I dated my ex for six years, but we broke up recently. The problem is, we signed a lease on our apartment that won’t be up until next year. He still lives here, and I don’t have the heart to kick him out. Financially, our living together makes sense, and I’d rather live with him than with a stranger.
Abby, this living arrangement has made it tough to get over him. Our breakup was amicable — somewhat — and we remain civil to each other. I have no desire to get back together with him. I just find it hard because I’m not sure how to survive this weird situation I’m in. Is it a good idea to keep living together?
Dear Remaining Civil: It depends upon how high your tolerance is for pain. If seeing your ex with others hurts to the extent that you shed tears on your pillow, or obsess about who he’s with and where he’s going, then it’s not a good idea. However, if the situation can’t be changed, then it’s important that you fill your time with activities and opportunities that allow you to meet new people and make new friends.
Dear Abby: My new husband’s family informed him they were coming to visit us for seven to 10 days. This was eight relatives, and I was not asked whether this was convenient or not. They were so noisy that our neighbors finally asked, “When are they leaving?”
How can I prevent this from happening again in the future without offending anyone? My husband said after they had left, “You don’t handle chaos and confusion well, do you?”
Needs to Be Consulted
Dear Needs to Be Consulted: Revisit the question your husband asked you. And when you do, tell him the answer is not only do you NOT handle chaos, confusion and eight surprise houseguests well, neither do your neighbors. Then set some boundaries for the next time they say they are coming. His first response should always be, “I’ll check with my wife to see if it’s convenient.”
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.