Annie Lane: A picture’s worth a thousand words

Published 5:12 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

Dear Annie: I have an elderly neighbor who is 96 and lives alone. Since she gave up driving, I’ve been more than happy to help her out. I grocery shop for her, take her for a hot meal once a week and drive her on errands. She has a son who lives 45 minutes away, so I understand that he can’t be there to help all the time.

My concern is I’m doing more and more for her as she has slowed down. She has difficulty walking, opening jars and understanding notices she gets in the mail. I’m beginning to feel more like a caregiver. When I express my concerns to her son, he understands, but his mom is EXTREMELY stubborn and refuses help. She refuses to use a cane even though she really needs a walker. I won’t take her shopping anymore because she is so unstable, and I told her this.

When I tell her son that she needs more help than I’m willing to give, he sympathizes, but he can’t get her to hire any help as she doesn’t want to spend the money (even though I know her finances, and she has plenty). If I quit helping, I’m afraid she will go downhill even faster. She relies on me, and I don’t want her to feel stressed, but I am at a loss as to what to do. I don’t want money, and I’m not willing to keep spending more time than I am qualified to. I’m in my 70s. Thoughts?

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— Frustrated

Dear Frustrated: They have really put you in a tough spot, and it’s understandable why you’ve reached your threshold. You’ve gone above and beyond for this woman, and she’s very fortunate to have had you in her corner all this time.

Be clear with her and her son what you are and aren’t able to do moving forward. If they’re adamant about not hiring help, perhaps it’s time to make use of local resources, like your Area Agency on Aging. Whether it’s hiring professional help, moving her to an assisted living facility, or her son making more of an effort to be present for his mom, ultimately, the future of her care is for them to work out.

• • •

Dear Annie: A few months ago, I discovered several naked photos of a woman that were in a laptop that had been given to me by my fiance of two years. We live together.

Initially, I said nothing to him about the photos, although I recognized the woman. I later realized the two of them talk on a regular basis for lengthy periods of time; however, never in my presence. If she calls and I’m there with him, he immediately sends the call to voicemail and auto-texts, “I can’t talk now.” When I did finally ask him about the nature of their past and present relationship, his response was, “We’ve never been anything more than friends.” I then let him know I’d seen the photos.

His first response was to act as if he wasn’t aware of them. Next, he stated they were 10 years old. However, the date stamp on them indicates they were sent to him only seven months prior to the start of our relationship.

We have had many heated conversations about the ongoing “friendship” and the disrespect to me — and her husband. I am certain her husband is unaware of the photos. My fiance swears they are nothing more than friends, but he refuses to have any conversation with her in my presence.

I question the nature of their friendship. He says that I can ask her, yet she has blocked my number and he continues to talk to her. Thoughts?

— Baring It All

Dear Baring: If you and your fiance have any hope of making it to the altar, this so-called friend has got to go. Everyone has a romantic past, but his past is clearly still present — and getting in the way of his future.

Secrets and lies make awful building blocks in which to start a marriage. Enlist the help of a couples counselor to repair the damage before anyone says, “I do.”

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