DEAR ANNIE: I have a neighbor who is 90 years old. Her only caregiver was her adult son, who just died last week after a long struggle with opioid addiction. Since then, I and another neighbor have been checking on her several times a day, as she needs a lot of care. We’ve been grocery shopping for her, picking up prescriptions and running errands. We’ve also got a meal train going with other neighbors on the street. The problem is what to do long-term. She needs a high level of care, as she’s disabled and not easily able to get around the house herself. In fact, she just got out of the hospital a few days before her son died, after a four-week stay. I’ve contacted social services multiple times, but they’ve yet to show up. I believe she’s an extreme fall risk. Do you know of any options?
She has no other family nearby. Her only living relatives are on the opposite coast and are in their 80s. We’re at a loss for what to do, but it feels like an emergency. — Scared for My Neighbor
DEAR SCARED: What a tragic situation. My heart goes out to this woman. In the short term, would it be possible for her to return to the hospital until she has home-care services in place? It’s dangerous for her to be on her own right now, and she doesn’t have anyone able to stay with her. That is an emergency worthy of hospitalization.
Then, help her come up with a long-term plan. If she has Medicare, she should be eligible for some home health care services. Medicare doesn’t cover 24/7 home care, just part-time care up to 28 hours per week. (Learn more at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/home-health-services.) From what you’ve shared, it sounds like she might need round-the-clock care at this point. If she has Original Medicare, that would cover a 100-day stay in a skilled nursing facility. You might ask if she would authorize you to speak with her health care providers so that you can help her make an informed decision. I wish her the best, and I commend you for extending her a hand in a time of need. The world needs more neighbors like you.
DEAR ANNIE: I feel your advice didn’t go far enough when responding to “Am I Wrong,” the man whose father-in-law is constantly making jabs at him about his kids’ religious training and other matters. He was ready to divorce his wife over the FIL’s mistreatment. You essentially encouraged him to be patient with his wife and not hold her dad’s behavior against her. I disagree. His wife should have stood up to her parents years ago. She should have said: “Mom, Dad, I love you, but if you continue to make disparaging remarks about my husband or me, you will be seeing a LOT less of us. Have I made myself clear?” That’s it. Hard stop. At this point, the letter writer and his wife need to work with a licensed marriage and family therapist to learn how to present a united front to her parents. — Debbie
DEAR DEBBIE: Seeing a marriage counselor would be an excellent idea for this couple, as the father-in-law has saddled them with plenty of baggage over the years that they’ll need to unpack if they’re to live happily together. Thanks for the note.