Sunday, June 17, 2007

Judie Rappaport: My 87-year-old dad wears a Speedo in public; it's embarrassing!

DEAR JUDIE: My 87-year-old Dad is wearing a Speedo bathing suit at his condo pool because his new girlfriend (88) thinks he looks sexy! Are they crazy? I'm mortified. What can I do to end this humiliation?

Celeste, Vero Beach
DEAR CELESTE: End your embarrassment by staying out of Dad's pool area. This is not about you. Dad's bathing suit is within legal limits, he's wearing the proper attire for a pool, and he's enjoying his life.

DEAR JUDIE: When I found out my favorite 81-year-old uncle had terminal cancer, I immediately went to Pennsylvania to help. My aunt, 80, has her own health issues and was glad to see me. She was always there for me when I needed her and I wanted to return her love by relieving her of the responsibility of taking care of my uncle. After I set up live-in home care, called Hospice, went grocery shopping, cleaned, cooked — everything I could think of — my aunt changed from nice to cool and resistant to my help. What happened?

Penny, Stuart

DEAR PENNY: I can hear readers saying, "I could use help, Penny, come to my house!" If they actually expressed those feelings, that would constitute an invitation. Taking charge of your uncle's needs was your aunt's domain. Unless she invited you or agreed to your help before your visit, your loving and well-meant reaction must have felt like an invasion of her privacy.

Call your aunt and apologize. Tell her how much her love and kindness meant to you through the years. Show your love and respect by asking her permission, "Can I help?" If she declines, say you love her and not to hesitate to call if she needs help or just wants to talk. Send cards, write warm letters, and call her frequently to respectfully repeat your offers and expressions of love.

DEAR JUDIE: I'm concerned about Mom's care in her nursing home. She's fallen twice, amazingly with no damage, but I don't think she should be falling at all. What's my next step?

Phil, Stuart

DEAR PHIL: Accidents happen, but falling twice suggests problems. Visit the director of nursing and ask for details: Where was the fall? Who found her? Could Mom's medications cause dizziness? Who examined her to determine whether she was injured? What was the cause of her fall? Has the staff made arrangements to prevent another fall?

Ask to attend the patient care conference (staff meeting to discuss Mom's plan of care). Keep records of the dates you visit, whom you talk to, questions asked, answers given and other problems witnessed or discussed. If the nursing home refuses to answer your questions or Mom falls again, file a formal complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration at (888) 419-3456 (www.ahca.myflorida/com/contact). Your written record will help. Stay involved. Supportive family members often help improve the level of care for nursing home patients.

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