Dear Annie: Our dad is in his 80s. In the past few years, he has become the poster child for whining. My siblings and I have gently brought this to his attention, but he insists it is not whining, it’s commentary. We call every day and visit once a week. It has become a running joke to see how long it will take before he complains. It starts with “I didn’t sleep well” or “My stomach is upset” or “I’m so tired.” I appreciate that senior citizens have aches and pains, but to listen to him, you’d think those were the only words in his vocabulary. We take healthy meals to his house, along with fruits and vegetables. He still grumbles about not eating. He does have a few medical issues, but they are acceptable for someone his age. I think he is depressed, but heaven forbid he get counseling. To him, that is a sign of weakness. We have tried to get him involved in community activities and take him to church, but he has no interest. It is much easier for him to play the victim. We love him dearly, but he is trying our patience. Suggestions? – Worried About Dad
Dear Worried: Some people complain because it garners them attention, and you could be right that Dad is depressed. It’s also possible he has medical issues that he hasn’t discussed with his doctor. Instead of bringing him meals, take him out for dinner so you can see what he is actually eating. Inadequate nutrition and dehydration can be serious. Ask if you can accompany him to his next doctor’s appointment, where you can alert the doctor to what is going on. If Dad isn’t seeing a geriatrician, consider asking his doctor for a referral.