DEAR HARRIETTE: My dad is suffering from dementia, and it is wearing on the family, as you might imagine. I travel a lot for my work, and recently, after many years, my husband decided to help out. I am so grateful that he is pitching in, but I don't know how long we can sustain taking care of my father at home.
My dad begged me not to put him in assisted living, and I don't want to. But I'm worried for his health. One day, when my husband and I were at work, my dad wandered out of the house. A neighbor found him and brought him home, but I was scared to death. What can I do? -- Worried About Dad, Washington, D.C.
DEAR WORRIED ABOUT DAD: The blessing is that you have your father alive with you. The challenge is that his health is compromising his safety. Look into getting a nurse or other health-care practitioner to stay with him during the day or when he otherwise would be left unsupervised. Investigate the option of senior day care. Some of these centers have the staff to support people with dementia.
Talk to your husband in detail about what's happening. Clarify what each of you can do to support your dad. Be sure to thank your husband for all that he is doing now. Address the potential need to put your dad in a home of some kind. Research his insurance policy to determine what he can afford if it gets to that. While your dad is opposed to such care, that may be the choice you have to make sometime down the line.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I hung out with my ex and his girlfriend the other night. I ran into them at a party and we started chatting.
We had a nice time, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was kind of jealous. They seem to get along so well. We fought a lot during our time together. I like him so much, and I don't even know why it didn't work out.
I think he definitely sees me as a chum now. He suggested that we all hang out again another time. His girlfriend seemed fine with it. But I'm not so sure. What do you think? -- Jealous Ex, Salt Lake City
DEAR JEALOUS EX: I'm sure it was pleasant to have spent that time together and to have received an invitation to hang out again, but I wouldn't accept it.
Think about this: What do you want to come of this interaction? Do you want to be friends with both of them? With just him again? What type of friendship are you hoping to cultivate?
You need to be clear that he is with her now, and it would be wrong for you to harbor feelings for him and enter into a triangulated friendship. It's likely that the results would be confusion and hurt feelings on your part.
Protect yourself and say, "Thank you, but no thank you."