DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband is coming to our small town to celebrate our daughter's graduation. He is bringing along his parents. I'm happy they are coming to show love and support for our daughter; however, his mother has dementia.
She's difficult to deal with now, and my ex doesn't manage the situation well. They take her to restaurants and hotels and allow very uncomfortable scenes to play out -- like sending food back (every single time) or allowing her to accuse the housekeeping staff of thievery. Rather than rationally deal with the problem themselves, they put the staff in a very awkward position.
The poor woman has a mental condition. It isn't a secret to the rest of us. I have figured out techniques to deal with her. I am going to cook some meals for them while they are here, but based on my work schedule, that's all I can do. Should I call ahead to the hotel and restaurants to warn them of the impending storm? -- HURRICANE INSANITY
DEAR H.I.: If you are known at the restaurants, you should definitely call ahead and speak to the manager about the fact that the poor woman is "not well." I'm sure it would be appreciated, and perhaps the party can be seated in a private area of the restaurant.
When someone has dementia, there comes a point where they should be kept in familiar surroundings to avoid situations in which the person can become agitated. This may be what's happening with your ex-mother-in-law when she finds herself in an environment she's not used to.
The Alzheimer's Association hosts support groups for caregivers and for families with loved ones who have dementia. In these groups, coping techniques are discussed. Your ex might benefit by reaching out, preferably before he and his mother make the trip. He can contact the association at www.alz.org or by calling the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900.