DEAR ABBY: I live in a 55-plus community. I am younger than my husband by 10 years, so I was 49 when we moved here. We have lost 49 neighbors during the past five years -- yes, seriously. Others are in nursing homes with no quality of life.
While walking my dog yesterday, a neighbor stopped me. She was standing in her driveway crying and nearly hysterical. Her husband has been in a nursing home for three years. He doesn't know what is going on or who she is. She told me that she visits him every day, but she cannot stand it anymore. She said she wants to kill herself, but isn't strong enough to do it.
They are in their 80s and had a wonderful 50-year marriage. He is not on life support, but has just been lying there for all this time. What can she do? What can I do to help her? -- LISA IN FLORIDA
DEAR LISA: Your poor neighbor was having an awful day. You already helped by listening to her and allowing her to vent. However, she needs to be able to do a lot more of it, and a way to help her further would be to suggest she talk to a doctor who specializes in the needs of older patients (a geriatrician). There may be a support group in your 55-plus community she could join, and she should be encouraged to do more for herself than she has been.
If she doesn't know of a doctor to consult, ask your physician if he/she knows someone who is good. Doctors usually refer patients to doctors at their own level of competence. She could also inquire in the facility her husband is at and ask about support groups there as well.