Annie Lane: Requesting COVID-19 tests before a visit

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Dear Annie: My adult daughter, who lives in a southern state with a notoriously high incidence of the coronavirus cases, informed us she would be bringing her boyfriend to our home when she visits us at Christmas. I’ve never met this gentleman and do not know his personal or social habits. My wife and I have been quite cautious in our physical distancing during this pandemic. Is it discourteous to ask my daughter’s friend to take a COVID-19 test before he visits?

— Playing It Safe

Dear Playing It Safe: It’s a reasonable request. But rather than unfairly singling out the boyfriend, all four of you should get tested in advance of the visit. This approach would not just be more courteous but more cautious. Call your doctor or check with your local health department to find testing locations near you.

Email newsletter signup

• • •

Dear Annie: September is World Alzheimer’s Month. More than 50 million people around the world live with dementia, and a new case is diagnosed every three seconds, according to the World Health Organization. I wanted to share some possible signs and symptoms of dementia, courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association.

— Memory loss becomes disruptive to normal life.

— Struggles with planning things and solving problems.

— Difficulty completing familiar tasks.

— Confusion with time or place.

— Trouble understanding spatial relationships or images.

— New problems with words.

— Misplacing things in unusual places.

— Poor judgment.

— Withdrawal from work or social life.

— Mood swings or personality changes.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any one of the above, don’t ignore it and don’t delay talking to your doctor about your concerns. Diagnosing dementia early can lead to a much greater quality of life for people with dementia and their families.

World Alzheimer’s Month is an international campaign to raise awareness about dementia and challenge the stigma surrounding it. Each year during this month, Alzheimer associations from around the world come together to organize and advocate for people and families impacted by this disease, with Memory Walks, fundraising days, and more. If you’d like to get involved, you can visit for more information.

— Alzheimer’s Ally

Dear Ally: Thank you for sharing this important information. I received the following letter just this week. It was in response to another letter, but it dovetails neatly with yours.

To Disgraced: Annie’s advice to you — to have your husband evaluated by a doctor to determine if dementia is the reason for his drastic personality change and inappropriate sexual behavior — is urgent. My brother was happily married, no children, in his early 30s, with a good career, when his personality began to change. He left his wife, got an apartment and, according to his apartment manager, my brother’s behavior flipped 180 degrees. He went from a nice, well-liked, respectful man to a rude, verbally and sexually aggressive, unhygienic person. His ability to communicate rationally deteriorated gradually over months. He refused to see a doctor, even though he was employed in a management position at a hospital; they ultimately had to let him go. At the time, I was in college in the School of Human Behavior and began to research types and causes of early onset dementia. There are many, and many are curable.  My brother’s brain disease was not. Technology for early stage!

  Diagnostic testing has advanced greatly in 40 years. Please, try to get him to a doctor. No reason to be disgraced. You are protecting the children while a diagnosis and treatment are sought. If you can’t persuade him to seek help, talk to someone he is close to, he respects, who could speak as a friend or relative. I wish you all the best.

— Sister Who’s Been There

Dear Sister: I am so sorry about your brother. Your letter further underscores the importance of seeking medical attention quickly for any unexplained personality changes. Thanks for writing.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to