Ask Gabby Gayle: Giving control to those who need it

By Gayle Lagman-Creswick

Dear Gabby Gayle: Today I am feeling sad. My friend is in assisted living with dementia. She is and was a beautiful, smart, thoughtful person. She asked me to bring her some nail polish remover when I came to visit. I agreed. I received a message from her daughter that I am not to bring it and that my friend is not supposed to ask me to bring anything. The family is taking care of everything. My friend called me crying, saying that she can’t do anything anymore. I love my friend but cannot go against the family. There must be something I can do to help her? – Signed, Sad

Dear Sad: This is an awkward situation. Your friend is trying to exert the little control she thought she had left, and her daughter doesn’t understand how important that little bit of control is to your friend. The daughter is trying to prevent her mother from becoming a “pest” to others by asking for things. I have two suggestions: 1. Speak to the daughter about how important it is to give a bit of control to those who have already lost so much, including health and home! Of course, you are risking the loss of the daughter’s confidence. 2. When you do visit, find ways to let her make decisions like, “Would you like to visit in your room or the patio?” Simple decisions. I would like to emphasize to any readers who have an aging loved one to heed this advice: Please let them have some control, even if it is small. You may be there someday and you will be fighting for some control of your life. I remember having an attorney in our place who had dementia. It was important for him to carry a briefcase with papers in it and to take them out once in a while and sort them. This gave him a sense of having control. – Signed, GG

Dear Gabby Gayle: In a recent column you asked for input from readers who had made good choices of a mate. I did not make a good choice the first time. My vision was blurred by lust! That guy just turned me on. However, he was a loser and the marriage did not last long. I swore I was going to be single the rest of my life. Twenty years later, in the home stretch of my life, I met a wonderful guy whom I dated for three years before he convinced me to marry him. It has been the best decision I have ever made. You are right to ask people to make good choices for a mate. I had no idea what it was like to love and be loved by a good man. Keep up the good work!

– Signed, Happy Camper

Dear Happy: Thank you for writing. For my readers: I would like to recommend an old book titled “Smart Women, Foolish Choices” by Cowan and Kinder. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you are contemplating a new relationship, it is good reading. I think it works for men too! – Signed, GG

Dear Gabby Gayle: I hope my grandparents read this. I picked up this newspaper at their house; I think they read it. Every time I visit them, they find some reason to pick on me. They ask about college, and I tell them I love it. Then they go off on the terrible things college kids are into, like drugs, politics (not their party), drinking, demonstrations, sex. Then they say, “But we know you are smarter than that.” I used to try to talk to them about the good side of college, but they do not hear. My question is why do so many old people have such bad opinions of young people?

– Signed, Granddaughter

Dear Granddaughter: I think it is because your grandparents aren’t around a lot of young people anymore and they get their impressions from the TV. We all know the news does not feature the good side of things, they feature the dramatic! Then old people begin to think all young people are like that. I say give them a little slack. Show them what a good girl you are! – Signed, GG