Dear Anne: I have an elderly neighbor who is 96 and lives alone. Since she stopped driving, I have been more than happy to help her. I buy groceries for him, I take him out for hot meals once a week and I take him shopping. She has a son who lives 45 minutes away, so I understand he can’t be there to help all the time.
My concern is that I am doing more and more for her because she has slowed down. She has difficulty walking, opening jars and understanding the notices she receives in the mail. I’m starting to feel more like a caregiver. When I express my concerns to her son, he understands, but his mother is extremely stubborn and refuses help. She refuses to use a cane even though she really needs a walker. I won’t take her shopping anymore because she’s so unstable, and I told her.
When I tell her son she needs more help than I’m willing to give, he sympathizes, but he can’t get her to hire help because she doesn’t want to spend the money. (although I know her finances, and she has plenty). If I stop helping, I’m afraid she’ll go down even faster. She’s counting on me and I don’t want her to feel stressed, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want money and I don’t want to keep spending more time than I’m allowed to. I am 70 years old. Thoughts?
Dear Frustrated: They really put you in a tough spot, and it’s understandable that you’ve reached your threshold. You went above and beyond for this woman, and she’s very lucky to have had you in her corner this whole time.
Be clear with her and her son about what you are and cannot do moving forward. If they’re adamant about not hiring help, it might be time to use local resources, like your regional agency on aging. Whether it’s hiring professional help, moving her to an assisted living facility, or getting her son to try harder to be there for his mother, ultimately the future of his care belongs to them.
Dear Anne: A few months ago, I discovered several photos of a naked woman that were in a laptop given to me by my fiancé of two years. We live together.
At first, I didn’t say anything to her in the photos, even though I recognized the woman. I realized later that they both talked regularly for long periods of time; however never in my presence. If she calls and I’m there with him, he immediately sends the call to voicemail and auto-messages, “I can’t talk right now.” When I finally asked him about the nature of their past and present relationship, his response was, “We were never just friends. I then let him know that I had seen the photos.
His first response was to act like he wasn’t aware of it. Then he said they were 10 years old. However, the date stamp on them indicates that they were sent to her only seven months before our relationship began.
We had many heated conversations about the ongoing “friendship” and disrespect towards me – and her husband. I’m sure her husband doesn’t know about the photos. My fiancé swears they’re just friends, but he refuses to have a conversation with her in my presence.
I wonder about the nature of their friendship. He says I can ask her, but she blocked my number and he keeps talking to her. Thoughts?
Dear Baring: If you and your fiancé have any hope of reaching the altar, this so-called friend has to go. Everyone has a romantic past, but their past is clearly still present – and hindering their future.
Secrets and lies make horrible building blocks for starting a marriage. Seek the help of a marriage counselor to undo the damage before someone says “yes.”