Dear Annie: My next-door neighbor, “Tillie,” is in her 90s. She is able-bodied, but her mind is slowly slipping. We had a great relationship until she allowed her nephew, his wife, their son and the son’s girlfriend to move in.
Not only are these relatives rude to us and all the other neighbors, but they treat Tillie with little respect. She’s out shoveling the walk at 7 a.m. when there are four healthy adults in her home. She now lives in her basement while they have taken over the main part of the house. We suspect they are waiting for her to die so they can keep the place.
I fear these people are only with her for an inheritance. What can we as concerned neighbors do to better Tillie’s situation? – Confused in Canada
Dear Confused: You can check on Tillie often, dropping by to see how she’s doing, inviting her for coffee, letting those relatives know you are keeping tabs on her situation. If you suspect there is any kind of abuse going on – physical, emotional or financial – contact the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (cnpea.ca) or the Public Health Agency of Canada (publichealth.gc.ca) at 130 Colonnade Rd., A.L. 6501H, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9. (In the U.S., contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at ncea.aoa.gov.)
Dear Annie: My husband is a dedicated teacher. Since we work different hours, there are only a few evenings when we are able to be together. My husband just made plans for a couple we know to spend the night at our house since it was the start of their school vacation week and they live out of state. He had barely mentioned this to me and we never discussed any concrete plans. Yet he told them it was OK.
On the rare nights I’m home, my husband spends so much time on the phone with co-workers and friends, I feel left out. What message (between the lines) does that send to me when these plans are not finalized by both of us? – Concern Warranted
Dear Concern: Your husband has created his own separate social life, which is why he felt entitled to make plans without consulting you. This is partly due to your incompatible work schedules, but also because he has common ground with fellow teachers and finds their input valuable and reassuring.
When he wants to talk, he turns to them instead of you. But you can fix this if you address it directly and work on ways to improve your communication and commitment. If you cannot do it on your own, please consider professional counseling.