DEAR ABBY: "Torn in Texas" (April 13) wrote that her widowed father-in-law visits them every weekend, leaving no time for her family to have a weekend just for themselves. May I suggest that "Torn" contact the Office on Aging nearest to "Pop" and find out what programs are available for seniors. If he has the capacity to drive an hour each way to their house, perhaps he could volunteer.
It appears that Pop has a lot of life left in him, and it's a shame that he spends so much of it alone. If he could become involved in some activities during the week, they might overflow into his weekends, keep him busy and productive, and alleviate his family's guilt. If you only reduce the number of times he visits each month, he will be alone that much more and probably won't admit that he is lonely.
As is often the case, I'll bet Pop's late wife made all their social plans. I recommend that Torn or her husband go with Pop to a program the first time. It would also be helpful to talk to the director and explain the circumstances. The father-in-law may be resistant at first because it's difficult to walk into a new place cold turkey. But he will be warmly welcomed and may look forward to the next time. -- EXPERIENCED WITH SENIORS
DEAR EXPERIENCED WITH SENIORS: Your letter reflects the opinion of many other readers. Most agreed that Pop needs to get out and become more involved, and Torn should appreciate the time she and her family spends with Pop, because at 87 he won't be around forever.
DEAR ABBY: While I sympathize with Torn, she needs to consider that her father-in-law is 87 and has many more years behind him than ahead of him. Any time spent with him should be considered a blessing. At his age, he may not be able to prepare food for himself, so time at his son's home may be his only opportunity for a decent meal.
My advice to Torn is to stop seeing Pop as a visitor and regard him as family. Include him in your family's life and plans and build memories while you can. Remember, you will be setting an example for your own children. How you treat your father-in-law is how they will believe the elderly should be treated, and one day that will be you. -- IRENE IN ELIDA, OHIO
DEAR ABBY: Torn should be thankful her father-in-law is in good enough health to visit and be part of the family. If she needs a weekend alone, think about having him up during the week. Perhaps her teenagers have activities during the week that he would enjoy. Your family is the most important thing to Pop, and by including him you are contributing to his quality of life and well-being. That way you will live with fewer regrets. -- ACHING IN ARIZONA
DEAR ABBY: It seems like a lot of families throw away their parents -- the people who gave them life, changed their diapers, fed, sheltered and clothed them. Daughter-in-law is using the excuse of needing a weekend to themselves to dump Grandpa into a nursing home.
If she needs time away from him, involve him in senior activities, church, a health club, and help him find some friends. Pretty soon she'll find she won't see much of Grandpa. She'll have her weekend time and also have helped him have a happy end to his life.
Remember, without Grandpa, she wouldn't have the husband she has now. She should pay him back a little of what he gave her husband -- the gift of life. -- APPRECIATING MY MOM