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by Abigail Van Buren

Caregivers Seek Help From Friends to Keep Loved Ones Safe

DEAR ABBY: I felt compelled to write after seeing your Dec. 15 response to "Anywhere, USA," the hosts seeking guidance about how to respond to the daughter of longtime friends who had recently visited. The daughter had emailed asking for a report on her parents' habits and conduct during their trip.

As a caregiving daughter myself, knowing many other caregiving adult children and belonging to a few support groups for caregivers, I believe inquiring of family friends and other relatives about their loved ones is not wrong or invasive. Our loved ones behave differently in different situations. How they negotiate changes and social situations without the caregiver present may provide important clues and information regarding their mental/cognitive status.

Caregivers try to give their loved ones as much freedom as safely possible. Gaining information about the visit would possibly give clues regarding the ability to travel independently or not, and whether they can still negotiate social and public situations appropriately. These are examples of things that a caregiver will never observe without the eyes of others.

Many caregivers out there read your column, and others who have aging, declining friends with caregiving kids. People must not hesitate to say something when they notice a change in behavior. -- LOYAL READER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR READER: I'm printing your letter because it is representative of the response I received about "Anywhere, USA's" letter. You raise an important issue about how it "takes a village" to band together and to share observations about changes in older people's comportment beyond simple aging.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Friends & Neighbors | Health & Safety