Dear Annie: My boyfriend’s mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s been really hard on him and his family. I’ve been trying to be there for him as best I can, but it seems like I’m always saying the wrong thing. The other day, he was talking about how difficult it is to think that there will eventually be a time when his mom can no longer remember his or his brothers’ names. I told him that was years down the road and to try not to think about it for now, to enjoy the quality time he can still spend with her. He snapped at me and told me he was allowed to think about it, that it was a reality he’s facing. What is the right thing to say in these situations? – Hesitant but Wanting to Help
Dear Hesitant: It’s not about saying the right thing. The fact is that this is extremely upsetting news for your boyfriend and his family, and there’s no combination of words that can make it all better. While I know that your wish to cheer him up comes from a place of love, it can come across as minimizing the pain – which adds insult to injury. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for a loved one is to simply sit with him in his pain and honor it.
You can also express your love by cooking meals, running errands or helping him out with any other practical aspects of everyday life that might fall to the wayside in the wake of this news. Ask him to always feel free to tell you what he needs from you, whether he’d like to hear reassurance or just wants to vent.
Lastly, you might encourage him to attend a support group. To find one in your area or to join a virtual support community, visit https://www.alz.org/help-support/community/support-groups.
Dear Annie: I’d like to reference your column from Jan. 28, 2019, “Check Before You Donate Items.” I agree with most of your answer, as it seems some people think donations are the same as taking out the trash. However, I was greatly disappointed with your comment, “You should never donate expired food.”
I would hope you could use your column to educate your readers to the fact that expired food – “sell by,” “use by,” “use or freeze by,” “best if used by” or whatever else the dates mean – are not because the contents are bad. Most canned goods are good for weeks, months or years – most with no decrease in nutrition or flavor.
Approved Food is a store in England that sells expired food at discount prices and has been known to need to close the store for two or three days to catch up with demand. Doug Rauch, a past president of Trader Joe’s, has opened a new line of stores – Daily Table – with the same concept and having a difficult time convincing the U.S. customers that the food is perfectly safe.
We supposedly have many people in the country who do not have enough to eat yet we waste (throw away) 40 percent of our food. When we encourage our food pantry recipients to not use past date – even “sell by” – what are we doing to their families? Denying them perfectly good food.
If it looks good and smells good, it’s good. The can contents cannot read. They do not know when to go bad. Same with milk and produce. – Waste Not, Want Not
Dear Waste Not: Thank you for this enlightening take on sell-by dates. I’m printing your letter to correct the record.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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