Hax: You can only help as much as allowed

The Washington PostJune 20, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: My Mom just turned 70 and has been overweight for a long time. She has a bad knee and refuses to discuss surgery. This has been going on for years and her mobility is decreasing.

I'm really concerned that she will lose her independence within the next two years. Any tips on approaching this subject with her?

STUBBORN MOM'S CHILD

The simplistic answer is that you can't do anything for your mom that she doesn't permit.

But since her mobility problems are on course to become your problem, I urge you to talk to an elder-care specialist about ways you can prepare.

The U.S. Administration on Aging offers an online Elder Care Locator: http://1.usa.gov/dyLW1c. Have a look, see who serves your/your mom's area, and get started on a comprehensive plan.

Again - you can get involved only to the extent she allows. However, I see that as only adding to the urgency of getting fully informed.

Dear Carolyn: My best friend and I are overweight. We were both thin in high school and slowly, through the years and pregnancies and divorces, have gained weight.

She wanted to have weight-loss surgery but her doctor was against it and her insurance wouldn't cover it. I just approached my doc the other day about the surgery. I am looking seriously into it and told my friend.

She scoffed at me and told me how terrible the surgery is and I should lose weight by diet and exercise (something she has never done).

If I do decide to have this done, I am seriously considering not telling her.

BREAKING UP WITH A FRIEND?

Sure, a friend ought to be more supportive, but you can't harrumph at her while simultaneously considering a run-and-hide exit from your friendship. She has understandably complicated feelings here; give her a chance to process them.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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