These elderly parents need to get busy
March 24, 2011
Dear Amy: My parents moved to the city where my sister and I live with our families.
They are in their early 70s and in good health.
They have no social life and very little contact with other people.
They wait to be invited to our homes for holidays and dinners and do not reciprocate because they don't care to entertain.
Their comments to us reveal that they are bored, and they get into disagreements with each other because they spend too much time together. They seem depressed.
We have suggested volunteering or joining an organization or club, but they do nothing to make their lives more engaging.
Instead, they wait for family to include them in a dinner or an occasional outing.
It is disturbing to watch them live the last years of their lives in this way.
Are there organizations that could help them get involved in their community with people their age?
It is a lot of pressure to be their only source of entertainment.
Dear Beth: You know your folks — you know their strengths and capabilities — and you could help them take baby steps toward more social independence.
If your kids' school uses volunteers for the school auction or book drive, you might say to one of your parents, "They could really use a hand at school. How about we meet there Wednesday morning, and I'll introduce you to the coordinator?"
AARP.org is a wonderful resource, full of ideas for how people can live more interesting and active lives. Peruse this site with your folks. You will find a link there to Senior Corps, a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities: Seniorcorps.gov.
You should also help your folks sign up for a local low cost/no-pressure health club. There is nothing like a bit of exercise to lift a saggy spirit.
Dear Amy: My circle of friends consists of a number of people in their late 20s to early 30s.
We are all young professionals.
There is a married couple in this group who are very frugal. You might call them downright cheap.
I am known to be a fairly insightful and creative gift-giver.
In anticipation of a friend's upcoming birthday, I recently shared a gift idea with a number of my friends, inviting them to contribute financially to the gift. I asked for $10 a person if they wanted to participate.
Many of my friends indicated that they would love to chip in — including the husband of this frugal couple.
His response was: "Count us in."
I am almost certain that he will eventually hand me $10 for the two of them. What's the etiquette here?
I did state $10 per person (as opposed to $10 per household).
Should I expect both him and his wife to pay individually, or does their legal union extend to a combined gift contribution?
I'm not a nit-picky person, but my stomach says it would be unfair to others participating if this couple only contributed $5 apiece.
What's your take?
— Not a Nit-picker
Dear Not: Actually, you are a nit-picker.
You shouldn't worry about what is fair to the other people in your group.
You have given each person an option to contribute, and this husband is exercising this option.
If he gives you $10, you can tell him, "The concept was originally intended for the cost to be $10 per person, not per couple."
He (or his wife) can either pony up another $10 — or you can kindly assume that the wife may choose to give another sort of gift in lieu of the $10 contribution.
You instruction was quite clear, but you can't control how people respond to it.
Dear Amy: When my second child was born, I didn't need a shower all over again and didn't want my friends to go to the trouble. But my friends threw a "meal shower" for me, and I absolutely loved it.
Everyone brought a main dish to put in the freezer and pull out anytime, as needed.
It is a wonderful custom, symbolic and incredibly helpful.
— Alison in Carbondale, Colo.
Dear Alison: You and your friends have solved the "second shower" problem. It is just right.
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