DEAR HARRIETTE: I received gift cards from my family for Christmas. That was perfect, because now that I am a young adult, my taste is different from that of my mother or other family members. For years, I would either just stuff the clothing in my bottom drawer or ask if I could take it back. I know that probably hurt people's feelings sometimes, but I can’t help it if we don’t like the same things.
I appreciate that my family finally gave me something that I can use. Should I show them what I buy with the money they gave me, or is saying thank you enough? -- Best Gift Ever, Norfolk, Virginia
DEAR BEST GIFT EVER: Start by thanking your family members -- from your mother on down -- for the gift cards. Tell them how much you appreciate the fact that they realize that the best gift is to let you buy what you want. Ask your mother if she would like to see what you bought with the money or gift cards. If it would interest her, show her. Otherwise, just say thank you and let that be enough.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my mother is going blind. She has macular degeneration. She says she cannot read well and generally she sees fuzzy. I am so scared for her. She lives by herself and has been independent forever. I have invited her to come and live with me and my family, but she said no. I am afraid for her to live by herself much longer, and we cannot afford to hire full-time care.
This is such a big shift. She stopped driving only last year, because we -- her children -- begged her to stop. Believe it or not, her doctor didn’t even require that she stop, even though he knew she had this condition. How can I help my mother? -- Going Blind, New Orleans
DEAR GOING BLIND: It may be a relief to you to know that macular degeneration does not necessarily lead to complete blindness, even though it does lead to significant loss of vision. Indeed, in the early stages of the disease, many people continue to drive during the day without incident. Talk to your mother’s doctor about her condition so that you can be clear about what she is facing. Ask for suggestions for how she can care for herself. Ask for the signs that she may no longer be able to live alone. When that time comes, you will have to address it with her and figure out how her Social Security and your support will be able to take care of her.
For more information about living with macular degeneration, go to macularhope.org/about-md/coping-skills/.
If she is willing, you can also have her learn how to live as a blind or partially blind person. There are many resources available to support her, including the American Foundation for the Blind. Visit afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/2 to get started.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)