DEAR AMY: I am an only child. My family and I live about five hours from my parents, who are retired. My husband and I have two children, one in college and one in high school. I am a teacher and my husband has worked in the management field for a company for more than 20 years. My dilemma is that my mother has Alzheimer’s, and I am really feeling the strain of the distance between us. I want to be there to support her, and to help my dad with caregiver responsibilities. There is no other family around to help them out, and it’s very important to me to be there for them. Do you have any advice on how I can bridge the gap?
DEAR WORRIED: You should make sure your parents have the best possible care. This is something you can help to set up and monitor (to some extent) from a distance. You will feel better when you are confident that they have a local safety net.
The Alzheimer’s Association has a very helpful “community resource finder” on its website: (alz.org). I tested this using several different ZIP codes and searching for different categories, such as “adult day care programs.” Doing a search like this would help inform you about what services are available to your parents locally. The local Office on Aging will also help.
You can hire a local geriatric care manager to coordinate some of these services and communicate with you.
You should plan a trip home and stay for at least a week, in order to try to get an idea of what their challenges are over the course of several days and to check out local programs and caregivers. Work with your father to set up some respite care and household help — even if he says he doesn’t need it.
Because you are a teacher, I’m assuming you might have some time during the summer when you aren’t working. You should ask your husband to pick up the slack at home in order for you to spend more time with your folks (perhaps he could drive to visit you on the weekends). Ultimately, moving them near you — or you moving to them — might be necessary.
DEAR AMY: My childhood friend is getting married. She asked me to be her matron of honor. She then turned into a Bridezilla and hurt my feelings several times. I finally told her that I was upset and hurt. I said I wanted to talk. Instead of talking on the phone she sent me an email “relinquishing me of my duties” and accusing me of “going through something.” I tried to call her, but she has now completely cut me out of her life. She won’t answer the phone. She would still like me to be a guest at her wedding and I am wondering why she is projecting her wedding stress and anxiety onto me. I am very hurt and do not feel comfortable going to her wedding. Should I be the bigger person and go?
DEAR WORRIED: I assume you are relieved that you have been stripped of your matron of honor duties. Judging by the mail I receive from exhausted and impoverished wedding attendants, you’re living the dream.
However, being a bride is (also) extremely stressful. Part of the attendant’s job description is to help the bride cope with her stress by being helpful and occasionally extra-tolerant.
The bride accused you of “going through something.” It sounds as if you are.
Now that you don’t have an official function, if you don’t want to attend this wedding, you should stay home. Notify the bride. Simply tell her you won’t be able to come and wish her a very happy day. You seem to think that you would be doing her some kind of favor by attending her wedding. She may not see it that way.
DEAR AMY: I want to tell the poor man who signed his letter “Divided Family” that it is OK to cut off contact when someone is abusive. Do not feel guilty for protecting yourself and family. It is the right thing to do to keep your children away from toxic people. Don’t let this abuse affect another generation.
DEAR BEEN THERE: I agree with you — and I agreed with this man’s choice to keep his children away from his father. Reconciliation with his own father seemed possible, but not likely.