Fam­ily vis­it­ing for grad­u­a­tion brings grandma with de­men­tia


DEAR ABBY: My ex-hus­band is com­ing to our small town to cel­e­brate our daugh­ter’s grad­u­a­tion. He is bring­ing along his par­ents. I’m happy they are com­ing to show love and sup­port for our daugh­ter; how­ever, his mother has de­men­tia.

She’s dif­fi­cult to deal with now, and my ex doesn’t man­age the sit­u­a­tion well. They take her to restau­rants and ho­tels and al­low very un­com­fort­able scenes to play out — like send­ing food back (ev­ery sin­gle time) or al­low­ing her to ac­cuse the house­keep­ing staff of thiev­ery. Rather than ra­tio­nally deal with the prob­lem them­selves, they put the staff in a very awk­ward po­si­tion.

The poor woman has a men­tal con­di­tion. It isn’t a se­cret to the rest of us. I have fig­ured out tech­niques to deal with her. I am go­ing to cook some meals for them while they are here, but based on my work sched­ule, that’s all I can do. Should I call ahead to the ho­tel and restau­rants to warn them of the im­pend­ing storm? — HURRICANE INSANITY

DEAR H.I.: If you are known at the restau­rants, you should def­i­nitely call ahead and speak to the man­ager about the fact that the poor woman is “not well.” I’m sure it would be ap­pre­ci­ated, and per­haps the party can be seated in a pri­vate area of the restau­rant.

When some­one has de­men­tia, there comes a point where they should be kept in fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings to avoid sit­u­a­tions in which the per­son can be­come ag­i­tated. This may be what’s hap­pen­ing with your ex-mother-in-law when she finds her­self in an en­vi­ron­ment she’s not used to.

The Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion hosts sup­port groups for care­givers and for fam­i­lies with loved ones who have de­men­tia. In these groups, cop­ing tech­niques are dis­cussed. Your ex might ben­e­fit by reach­ing out, prefer­ably be­fore he and his mother make the trip. He can con­tact the as­so­ci­a­tion at www.alz.org or by call­ing the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.

DEAR ABBY: You know the adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til you lose it”? In 2009, be­fore I was de­ployed to Kuwait, I was in a short re­la­tion­ship with “Donna.” Be­cause I didn’t want her to worry about me while I was gone, I ended it and broke her heart. (Big mis­take.) When I came home, Donna had moved away, and I lost her phone num­ber when my old phone broke. Since then, I have not been in any re­la­tion­ships, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about and miss her and the in­side jokes we had to­gether. Lately, it has got­ten worse.

I know Donna’s sis­ter still lives here. Should I go and ask her about Donna, and how she’s do­ing and where she is now, and whether she’ll con­tact her for me? Or should I just keep try­ing to get over her? — REGRETTING IT IN THE WEST

DEAR REGRETTING: What are you wait­ing for? Noth­ing ven­tured, noth­ing gained. By all means, talk to Donna’s sis­ter, who might en­joy be­ing able to play the role of Cupid. If Donna is still sin­gle and avail­able, she may be as glad to see you as you will be to see her.

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