Originally Published: June 21, 2017 6:01 a.m.
Dear Annie: I am 63, and I help daily with my 94-year-old mother, who lives by herself. I run errands, and I keep her yard nice. I have a brother and sister who live out of state. They come back to visit from time to time. When they do visit, they expect me to entertain them. I feel that because they are staying with her, it is my time to take a break. They don’t seem to realize the pressures I go through every day, when I wonder whether she will answer the door or I will find her on the floor.
Am I being unreasonable in wanting to be able to “escape” mentally and physically for a couple of days whenever it is convenient for them to “escape” their out-of-state lives and visit? I’d like to be able to visit my children and maybe travel a little bit. They not only try to make me feel guilty but also put my mom up to calling me on their behalf. — Needing a Break in Pensacola
Dear Needing a Break: It is absolutely reasonable — and smart — that you want some time alone and away from the stresses of caretaking. To properly take care of anyone, you first need to take care of yourself. If your batteries are constantly drained, they’ll eventually be past the point of recharging. Look into hiring some professional help to supplement your own care of your mother. Many insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, include some form of hospice coverage. Visit https://hospicefoundation.org.
As for your siblings, how they want to treat your mother is their choice. Though you can’t force them to spend more time with her, you can stick up for yourself and ask them to stop shifting blame onto you. You are a wonderful daughter. Don’t let them make you think otherwise because of their own selfish motives.
Dear Annie: I can no longer take this digital world.
I cannot program my new dishwasher to a one-hour setting instead of letting it run for two hours; my old dishwasher ran with nothing but a push of the start button. I cannot get an ice cube from my new refrigerator. It’s like an algebra problem. I used to get ice cubes from my old refrigerator by opening the freezer door and grabbing the ice cube tray. New refrigerators do not come equipped with ice cube trays.
My old TV set used to turn on with the click of a single button on the remote. My new TV requires three or four clicks before the picture turns on. I used to play a tape by simply pushing “play” and turned it off by pushing “off.” I am still trying to learn the steps that one has to go through to turn off a DVR. This is the reason mental problems are on the rise for people over 80.— Digital Victim
Dear Digital Victim: I feel your pain. I hate having to use two remotes and a considerable amount of brainpower just to turn on the nightly news. But look at it this way: These technological challenges, although frustrating, are working your brain. Cognitive psychologists have found that learning new skills helps to ward off dementia by strengthening connections between different areas of the brain.
That said, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy figuring things out on your own. Ask a store associate for help next time you’re buying such a product. You might also benefit from taking a computer course at your local library, as it could help you feel savvier with technology overall. Don’t give up.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.