Help mom ex­pand her so­cial life out­side of fam­ily

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - LIFE - MAU­REEN SCURFIELD

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I have a hard time know­ing how to show my love to my mother, a cranky old woman in a lot of pain. If I try to kiss her cheek as I leave, she grunts! If I try to en­gage her in con­ver­sa­tion, she says, “Can’t you see I’m in pain? Leave me alone.” Hon­estly, there is noth­ing good about go­ing over to help, when she’s so nasty. She isn’t ter­ri­bly sick, but she’s lonely. She says she doesn’t want to sell and go to an “old folks’ home” or she might “lose her mar­bles.” We have the money to help her move into an in­de­pen­dent liv­ing sit­u­a­tion where there would be com­pany and ac­tiv­i­ties and fun with people her own age. What should I do? Last night I heard a voice in my head say, “To heck with her. I’m not go­ing where I’m not wanted.” I do take her to the doc­tor reg­u­larly, where she is per­fectly pleas­ant and tells him she has “very lit­tle pain.” What an act! — Tear­ing My Hair Out, Win­nipeg Dear Tear­ing: Your mom needs con­tact with people other than fam­ily, where she will be­have bet­ter than with her chil­dren who “have” to love her. She sounds de­pressed and might need med­i­ca­tion to boost her into a hap­pier, more so­cial gear. Speak to her doc­tor next time you take her. Fol­low her right in the door, and tell the doc­tor how she’s be­hav­ing and your con­cerns about her mood. Right now, start col­lect­ing all the se­niors ac­tiv­i­ties in­for­ma­tion you can from news­pa­pers and list­ings, and of­fer to drive her to and from some ac­tiv­i­ties. Be aware some moth­ers and daugh­ters get along bet­ter when they go out to movies and con­certs. Stay­ing home to visit is just more de­press­ing time your mother spends in the house. You can also help her by mak­ing a list with her of her favourite TV shows and times, and pos­si­bly train­ing her on the com­puter with a list of emails for her friends and fam­ily on­line. Ditto for a phone list taped on the wall by the phone. Older people some­times for­get about phon­ing friends and ex­tended fam­ily they’d en­joy talk­ing to. If you sus­pect she’s eat­ing “tea and toast” and not cook­ing, Meals on Wheels at 204-956-7711 is an op­tion at $6 a daily meal with a pre-pay­ment of $25 and enough money for 10 meals, and bills go out monthly af­ter that. To the ar­eas where they can’t deliver on the week­ends, they dou­ble up so people can save the weekend meals. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in re­sponse to the per­son who wrote in about the mother of three who had her 13-year-old daugh­ter look­ing af­ter her two younger chil­dren while she went to work at her sec­ond job. The prov­ince’s day­care sub­sidy pro­gram will charge on a slid­ing scale so that low-in­come par­ents can af­ford li­censed day­care. The chil­dren wouldn’t be able to stay at the day­care all day and all evening, but it is cer­tainly an op­tion that might help this fam­ily at least part of the time. They charge based on the in­come of the par­ent. So, the low­est in­come level would get full cov­er­age. The more money the par­ent makes the more they’ll be re­quired to con­trib­ute to­wards the cost of day­care. Here is a link:— A Lit­tle Help Dear Help: It’s hard to un­der­stand how lit­tle money some people earn. For the mom to pay day­care for the lit­tle kids past what­ever she al­ready pays for the school day now is prob­a­bly too much, but she may get a fi­nan­cial break for what she uses now. Thanks for tak­ing the time to write in. Let’s hope she read this. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Bravo, ku­dos and all that for your an­swer to Con­cerned. If mom were un­em­ployed and leav­ing the kids while she hit the bars, that’d be one thing. But she’s not! She and her 13-year-old are try­ing their best to keep the fam­ily to­gether. No doubt the teen es­pe­cially feels about to be buried un­der an avalanche of mis­for­tunes al­ready. The last thing she needs is the threat of end­ing up “in the (fos­ter home) sys­tem” along with her sib­lings and blam­ing her­self for the rest of her life. Your com­ments and sug­ges­tions were all spot-on. A few more? The young teen needs a few people will­ing to let her call them when she needs ad­vice, or talk her down when she’s climb­ing the walls or the baby won’t stop cry­ing, or when she feels alone. Wish I could help, but I don’t live in Win­nipeg. — Hope­ful Dear Hope­ful: How does she get all these things in this iso­lated so­ci­ety? Per­haps it could start with Con­cerned who wrote in about this young mother and her teenage daugh­ter/babysit­ter. If she knows the fam­ily well enough to go over and of­fer a help­ing hand, it would be help­ful if she ar­rived with a list of help num­bers from close neigh­bours will­ing to help. Please send your ques­tions or com­ments c/o love­coach@hot­ or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Win­nipeg Free Press, 1355 Moun­tain Ave., Win­nipeg, R2X 3B6.

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