My mother, currently age 90, lives in an aged-care facility in Canada. My oldest sister and I live in separate countries overseas. We both try to visit Mom once a year, either in spring or fall.
My sister has just announced her date to visit and has arrived, with COVID. There’s a small two-bedroom apartment that we’d stay in. She wants a “family reunion” but she’s bossy and difficult. Last year, when our visits overlapped for one week, she kept the radio and the YouTube blasting from her room all day. I hid in my room with my door closed.
She’s anti-vax (only “forced” to vax for travel), extremist, and a conspiracy-theorist believing anything mainstream like Western medicine, is fake news. When she’s not pushing some alternative treatment, or fringe political ideas, it’s about money.
Last time, she stayed for four to five months. Sharing an apartment with her for even just weeks doesn’t appeal to me. Should I tell her the real reason, or keep giving excuses when she asks when I’m planning on visiting?
Until you define your own wishes and routine for when, where and how you visit your aging mother, your focus on your sister will take precedence. So, why join her when you can surely find somewhere else to stay for that one week?
Since your “family visit” to your mother is only for that one week, she deserves having you get along, or visit separately.
Currently, your focus on your sister clouds any sense of a meaningful reunion with your mother.
If there’s evidence of ongoing discord, she’ll be left with the bitter knowledge that her adult children still can’t surmount their personal squabbles and grant her the gift of peace.
When you visit, focus on her. Hold her hand if she’s comfortable with that. Ask how she’s feeling, and if there’s anything she’d like you to get her (first check with her caregiver as to what’s allowed).
Also important, meet with the doctor who sees your mom at this care home and ask for information about her health. That’s the support she needs from you.
Dear Readers - I don’t often refer to requests from hard-working publicists to promote column ideas, but here’s a topic that strikes a chord with my strong interest in the topic of eating disorders, which a U.S. parent group has brought to my attention:
Specifically, the parents are warning that TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram promote “extreme eating disorder content” to kids immersed in a trend that encourages teenagers to focus on achieving a “Summer Body.”
I’ve personally seen up close the effects on adolescents and teens, females and males, who fixate on their appearance, and suddenly become negative about their bodies as soon as it’s bathing suit season. For example, teenage boys who begin dieting and working out strenuously on fitness equipment to achieve a “beach-worthy” physique.
The parent group have mentioned the following examples:
1) One 18-year-old daughter developed an eating disorder during the pandemic when she was spending increased time on social media. She was eventually in a residential recovery program that didn’t allow phones and said it was amazing.
2) A daughter bullied on Snapchat began developing an eating disorder. On TikTok, she learned specific techniques to hide her eating disorder (ED) from her parents and doctors. She has since been in multiple recovery programs.
3) A daughter who was almost hospitalized with ED got rid of her phone in recovery and blames social media for much of her struggles.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding Male Pattern Baldness (May 13):
Reader – “I found the comments about male baldness from you and some of your readers very interesting. I'm now 91, but in my working years, I operated ‘Men's Custom Hairpieces’ from my downtown office. Even today I notice so many men wearing hairpieces. (Most people don’t recognize the huge improvement!)
“From my experience, it’s a trifle embarrassing for a new wearer, but only for a couple of weeks.
“Once accustomed to no longer being bald, these men never again allowed themselves to be seen bald without their hairpieces.”
Ellie - You sensed a timely need among men going bald and upset about it. It also provided you with a successful business.
Today, many women with thinning hair (usually starting in middle age) discovered similar options and entrepreneurs who create a weave of hair that can blend into the thinning areas, or a full wig.
Tip of the day:
When visiting an aging relative in a care home, show sincere interest in their well-being.