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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dad isn’t meeting Mom’s health needs

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar Kathy Mitchell

Dear Annie: Our mother has Alzheimer’s disease, and we don’t think Dad is taking proper care of her. Mom seems undernourished. Dad thinks a slice of toast or a cup of coffee constitutes adequate caloric intake for her. If she says “no” to food, he simply accepts that response without trying to encourage her to eat. Her clothes are now several sizes too big.

Mom has emotional outbursts and periods of uncontrollable crying, and she frequently screams out, thus making a good night’s sleep impossible for either of them. It is difficult for her to walk more than 15 feet. Dad doesn’t assist her consistently, and she has fallen numerous times.

Personal hygiene seems a thing of the past. Their home, which once sparkled, is now dirty and disorganized. We have offered to clean, do household chores, etc., but our offers fall on deaf ears. We gave Dad the name of a local specialist, but he refuses to call. We contacted their family doctor, who said he was unable to convince Dad that Mom needs to go into assisted living.

Dad seems to relish being the martyr and constantly complains about having to do everything. We understand that after 50-plus years of marriage, this must be extremely difficult for him. My siblings, our spouses and the grandchildren do not know what to do next. – Caring Kids in California

Dear Caring: It can be traumatizing for one spouse to place another in a facility of any kind, and a certain paralysis can set in, preventing major decisions and changes. You and your siblings need to step up to the plate right now. Call the Eldercare Locator ( at (800) 677-1116 and ask for assistance. If you can afford it, also try the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (

Please email questions to anniesmailbox@comcast. net.

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