Dear Annie: My husband’s parents are in their mid-70s. They are both in good health and financially stable. The problem is, my mother-in-law has a bit of hypochondria along with some anxiety. She has self-diagnosed herself with many “syndromes” (such as fibromyalgia, restless leg, irritable bowel), and she refuses to exercise. Her syndromes, which are exacerbated by her anxiety, keep her from getting out of the house, unless it involves an activity that she truly enjoys, like shopping.
My in-laws don’t have a wide social circle, and Mom refuses to try to make new friends. You can’t have a conversation with her without the topic turning to her various maladies. I believe this is causing her some depression. Our town has many great programs for seniors, and I know both of my in-laws would benefit from them. I have repeatedly suggested to my mother-in-law that she get outside more, get some exercise, volunteer, take classes at the senior center, etc., but she refuses.
Annie, I understand that Mom may have some physical ailments, but being home all day and inactive surely can’t be making her better. It’s so important to remain physically and mentally active, and it’s frustrating to see a wonderful couple, a wonderful woman, throw her “golden years” away. — Frustrated Daughter-in-Law
Dear Daughter-in-Law: Your heart is in the right place, but please don’t pressure your mother-in-law to take care of herself the way you would. While exercise would be great, it only works if she’s willing to do it. To some extent, she likes her various maladies and isn’t ready to get rid of them. The best you can do right now is suggest that she see her doctor to be properly tested, evaluated and treated. And if you find a program at the senior center that you think she would like, offer to pick her up and go with her.
Dear Annie: I’m in love with a girl who said she loved me, too. We dated for a while last summer, and we’re still best friends. But “Lucy” has another boyfriend now, and he is a good guy. We all get along, but I’m extremely jealous that he has her. I’m pretty sure he knows how I feel. I’m still heartbroken about the breakup. I think about it all the time.
I’m considering talking to Lucy to see whether there is any chance of us getting back together someday. Should I? — Lover Boy
Dear Lover Boy: Not unless you are absolutely certain that Lucy wants the same thing. Otherwise, you will only be hurt again. We assume the reasons for the original breakup still exist. Also, she has someone else in her life now, and it is not appropriate to make a play for his girl. If he is aware that you are still interested in Lucy, rest assured, she is, too. If she wanted to get back together, she would let you know. We recommend you spend a lot less time in her company so you can learn to get over her.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Rocky Mount, Va.,” about allowing dogs at funerals.
When my sister was in hospice for four months, we told the staff how her dog, “Abby,” was searching the house and waiting at the door of her home every day. The wonderful staff suggested we bring Abby in. The dog would check on my sister first, then greet everyone else and finally lie down on the floor beside my sister’s bed. She did this every day we brought her. Toward the very end, Abby seemed to know that her wonderful master was dying. Now, she is a happy well-adjusted companion to another sister.
If at all possible, I recommend people let pets be with their masters at the end. Instinct seems to ease their minds, and even though the animals grieve, they are no longer waiting for them at the door. — Getting Better
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.