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DEAR HARRIETTE: My grandmother has been sick for about a year. She’s slowly losing control of her body and mind. She’s not capable of living alone as she can’t walk much and shows early signs of dementia. She has a live-in caretaker. My mom often goes over there to spend time with her and provide social connection. However, every time my mom comes home, she’s in a bad mood — and under- standably so. It’s just that she becomes so sad that it worries me. I don’t know what to do. How do I let her know I’m here for her and suggest she talk to a professional? — Approaching Loss
DEAR APPROACHING LOSS: Caregivers are often the family members who are the least cared for and the most at risk because they are so laser-focused on helping the person in immediate need that they neglect themselves. As a caregiver, she may have trouble finding enough time to tend to herself or may be too saddened to think about anything posi- tive. It’s great that you are noticing your mother’s needs so that you can help — even if only in small ways.
When your mother gets home, make it your inten- tion to tend to her. Offer to give her a shoulder rub for a few minutes. Talk to her about a creative idea that you would like her advice about. Create a time in the day that she can look for- ward to with you that will be uplifting and nurturing for her.
Ask her what activities and hobbies she has enjoyed in the past. Encourage her to think of something she may want to do for herself, like read- ing, knitting or crocheting, art, or a dance class. Meditation is an excellent way to shift your mood and engage your center. And yes, if she seems depressed, suggest that she see a therapist. For more ideas, AARP has a wealth of resources: bit.ly/2WM83bd. You can also find ideas from care- giver.com: bit.ly/3mT0n1E.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Ever since I started losing weight, my boyfriend has been treating me different- ly. I’ve lost around 50 pounds since January. Since the weight loss became noticeable, he rarely gives me compli- ments anymore. He once made a comment about how I think I’m too good for him now. I’m shocked by him acting like this; he was the main person who encouraged me to start my weight loss journey. What could this be about? — Unsupported
DEAR UNSUPPORTED: Sounds like your boyfriend is feeling insecure about himself and your relation- ship now that you are slimming down. He proba- bly thought you were beautiful before, and now you have become breath- taking to him. As more people notice you, he is increasingly less secure in his relationship with you. While this is happening in his head, you can help by assuring him of your feel- ings for him, letting him know how you are dealing with your body transfor- mation — insecurities and all — and making it clear how you feel about him. You must also tell him that when he withholds compli- ments and offers sharp words instead, it hurts your feelings and makes you think he doesn’t care about you. Have that hon- est conversation with him and plot a way forward together.