DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading the letter from "Worried About Dad in New Mexico." She's the daughter of the man who was widowed five years ago. She told you that shortly after her mother's death, her father began dating women about 45 years his junior -- and that he had spent more than $20,000 on those "girls." She said his house had been robbed three times, and the last woman who robbed him had grabbed his wallet and run out of the house topless, where she was met by an accomplice and driven away.
You told her -- in so many words -- that you thought he needed his head examined and possibly a conservatorship.
I can tell you from personal experience that being older and having reduced mental capacity is not the likely reason for her dad blowing money on those young women. It is more likely because he is male and lonely. Men do not take well to losing their spouses, whether because of death or divorce. I know, because I am 44 and have been there.
Soon after my divorce, I would have put up with almost anything to have a companion. I didn't lose money at the level that "Worried's" father did, but then, I didn't have that much to lose. After the third woman "took me," I began to wise up and figured that either my name was being passed around, or someone out there was conducting classes to teach women how to get money out of lonely men.
I should have known better -- not just because I'm smart, but because I'm a counselor for divorced and single fathers with the Missouri-Kansas Chapter of the National Congress for Fathers and Children. I had worked with divorced and single fathers for seven years at the time of my own divorce in 1996.
I agree with you that the man should have both a physical and mental checkup, because depression is very common in men after such events. I am going this week to a mental health facility for a follow-up myself.
Aside from that, the daughter should encourage her father to attend singles events for people his age. I know that this makes her uncomfortable, but if she wants to see her father live for many more years to come, the best medicine right now may be meeting someone new.
Because I believe that all recently divorced or widowed men should have depression testing, you may use my name. -- GEORGE R. McCASLAND
DEAR GEORGE: Thank you for an interesting letter. While you may be right that the father's problem could be loneliness and depression, I was concerned because his daughter reported that despite having installed an alarm system and motion detector, her father's house had been robbed three times, and his credit cards and ID stolen by women he had picked up or their accomplices. I felt he should be evaluated because the next time it happened, he could be injured or worse.
If the man passes muster and reads your letter, perhaps he will be lucky and find the "medicine" that you recommend. I'm not against having fun; I only want him to play safely. Readers, more on this subject tomorrow.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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