DEAR ABBY: I live in a 55-plus community. I am younger than my husband by 10 years, so I was 49 when we moved here. We have lost 49 neighbors during the last five years - yes, seriously. Others are in nursing homes with no quality of life.
While walking my dog, a neighbor stopped me. She was standing in her driveway crying, nearly hysterical. Her husband has been in a nursing home for three years. He doesn't know what is going on or who she is. She told me that she visits him every day, but that she cannot stand it anymore. She said she wanted to kill herself, but wasn't strong enough to do it.
They are in their 80s and had a wonderful 50-year marriage. He is not on life support, but has just been lying there for all this time. What can she do? What can I do to help her?
- Lisa in Florida
DEAR LISA: Your poor neighbor was having an awful day. You already helped by listening to her and allowing her to vent. However, she needs to be able to do a lot more of it, and a way to help her further would be to suggest she talk to a doctor who specializes in the needs of older patients (a geriatrician). There may be a support group in your 55-plus community she could join, and she should be encouraged to do more for herself than she has been.
If she doesn't know of a doctor to consult, ask your physician if he/she knows someone who is good. Doctors usually refer patients to doctors at their own level of competence. She could also inquire in the facility her husband is at and ask about support groups there as well.
Son is stuck in a rut he's begun to decorate
DEAR ABBY: My son, "Allen," is 27 and a pretty good writer, mostly fantasy stuff. I don't like that genre myself, but I have enjoyed reading some of his work. He writes not only short stories but also entire books.
I have tried to persuade him to submit his work to publishers, to no avail. He has a college degree, but doesn't use it. He's content working a minimum-wage job when he could be doing what he loves and possibly make a living at it. Oh, and he still lives at home and does very little work around the house. Advice, please?
- Frustrated Father
DEAR FRUSTRATED FATHER: Has it occurred to you that your son may be in a comfortable rut? I assume you have already spoken to him regarding his lack of ambition. While his job may not be what you think he's capable of doing, it may allow him the time to write. He may hesitate to submit his work to publishers because he's afraid rejection would be too painful.
Not knowing your son, I can't guess his reasons for living the life he has chosen. However, if what's really bothering you is the fact that, at 27, he's still living at home and not helping enough around the house, that is fixable. Explain what you expect of him if he's going to continue to stay there, and if he doesn't live up to his responsibilities, tell him he will have to leave.
It's your home, and you have a right to be assertive about what goes on in it.