They can't help unless Mom opens up to them

Dear Annie: My dear mother-in-law was functioning pretty well at home until she had a heart attack. Now she can't care for herself. Since she is otherwise a competent adult, her medical information is private, yet we'd like to know what is going on so we can help. She won't tell us anything.
Mom currently has care from a temporary service during the week, and my sister-in-law takes care of her at night and on weekends. This is a tremendous strain on my sister-in-law, but I work during the hours when I'd be most useful, and my husband is recovering from surgery himself and cannot care for his mother.
Mom doesn't like the day help, and sometimes she talks as though she might consider institutional care. I've talked to the intake worker from the most reputable place in town. The worker was helpful, but stressed that they, too, would need to know more about Mom's medical condition, and Mom won't open up.
Surely there must be people who help with this kind of situation. What can we do? Concerned in Kansas
Dear Kansas: We spoke to a geriatric care manager who said that the doctor may offer information to your husband, since he is an immediate family member. Or the doctor might be willing to talk to Mom about sharing the details. You also can hire a mediator or a care manager to hold a family meeting, where everyone can get together with Mom and explain your inability to help her unless she permits you to know what's going on.
Mom may be very scared of how dependent she has become, and this could be part of the problem. Reassure her that you love her and will try to do the best you can for her. Your family also should consider a support group. Try the American Heart Association ( at (800) 242-8721.
Dear Annie: I must take you to task for your response to "Unactive," who didn't want to have sex with her boyfriend, but also didn't want to be teased at school. It was great, except you missed the mark on one word -- "girls."
It isn't just girls who feel peer pressure to be sexually active. Suggesting that girls require courage says nothing to support the young boyfriend trying to do the right thing and simultaneously wanting to avoid being the butt of jokes and ridicule in his peer group.
It is frequently considered abnormal for a boy to want to fend off the sexual attentions of a girl, but it happens regularly. And if we want girls to have the self-confidence to be true to themselves and not succumb to peer pressure, then they will expect to find boys with a matching strength of character. Raising a Son
Dear Raising a Son: You are absolutely right. Boys are under the same pressure to have sex, even when they don't want to, or when they are trying to uphold a higher standard. They need to know they are not alone. Thank you.
Dear Annie: I was one of those husbands who had his own chores around the home, but it rarely included regular housework. I would sometimes empty the dishwasher. My wife would tell me of all the things she had to do around the house, but it never made an impression.
Annie, I loved my wife beyond words. I was just turning a deaf ear to her really saying, "Please, I need some help around the home." Well, my love passed away holding my hand. To this day, I wish I had said to her, "What do you want me to do?" It is so sad that we realize too late what our real responsibilities as husband and wife are, but what I would give to go back and do it all over again. Still Grieving
Dear Grieving: We can tell that your heart is breaking. Too many of us ignore requests for help with the mundane because it doesn't seem important. Until it's too late.
E-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.