Neigh­bour’s frus­tra­tions spill over in drive­way con­ver­sa­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. For an ex­cel­lent guide to be­com­ing

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 past five years — yes, se­ri­ously. Oth­ers are in nurs­ing homes with no qual­ity of life.

While walk­ing my dog yes­ter­day, a neigh­bor stopped me. She was stand­ing in her drive­way cry­ing and 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 she can­not stand it any­more. She said she wants to kill her­self, but isn’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.

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 con­vince 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.

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