Q & A: Composite Case Illustrations

Source: NYSUT Social Services

The following are composite questions from different cases:

Retiree considers re-locating for grandchild

Q: I'm a 66-year-old widowed NYSUT retiree who lives in Rochester. My daughter recently had a baby girl, and I am so thrilled! The problem is, she lives in Dallas. My friend Doris just moved to Chicago to help her daughter with her first child, and I am wondering if I should offer to do the same for mine. I would really love to be closer to my first grandchild, but I have serious reservations about moving. I have lived in Rochester my entire adult life, near both of my sisters. I have a wide circle of dear friends. I am not sure if at this stage in my life I am ready to pack up and leave everything behind, but then I feel like a selfish person and a bad mother. What should I do?

A: Studies show most people would prefer to move no further than a few blocks from their current residence once they retire, so if you have some concerns about transplanting yourself halfway across the country, you are actually more the rule than the exception.

Nonetheless, your dilemma is a difficult and emotional one. That is why it is a good idea to identify and acknowledge all of your feelings, set them aside, and then try to weigh the pros and cons of a move objectively.

Many retirees think about selling their homes because they are tired of the work involved in their upkeep. However, the difference between relocating to an apartment in your hometown versus moving to a new city and state is great. When you leave Rochester, you will have to look for a new circle of friends, doctors, house of worship, library, grocery store, barber or beautician, favorite restaurant, etc. Think of the things you love about your community in detail. Can you replicate them in the new environment"?

On the flip side, perhaps you have been thinking about moving for a while — even before your new granddaughter arrived. Have you always assumed that someday you would move close to your daughter? Have you investigated what educational, social, cultural and community activities exist in Dallas? Picture your day-to-day routine in the new location, using your imagination to get a clear visual picture of what your daily life would be like. And be sure to make a few extended visits in Dallas. Do this in different seasons to make sure you can withstand the weather.

Once you have given it considerable thought, sit down and discuss your options with as many people as you can — your sisters, your daughter's family, your friends, etc. You can even call NYSUT Social Services to bounce your ideas off an objective person with no emotional attachment to the situation.

If you ultimately decide a move at the moment is not in your own best interest, identify other ways you can help your daughter. Perhaps you can help contribute to the cost of child care or do some long-distance research to hunt for a nanny. Or maybe you can set up bi-weekly phone sessions to hear her concerns as a new mother, and share your expertise and experience.

In the end, most folks cannot afford to reverse a move once they have made it, so take your time, use your common sense and trust your instincts.

Mother becoming forgetful

Q: My mother is starting to lose things, and she repeats the same conversation over and over again. There is a pile of bills on her table that she hasn't gotten around to paying. From what I've read, these are common signs of Alzheimer's Disease. As a result I am starting to look at assisted living facilities in my area. How do I convince her to make the move?

A: What you have observed can indicate many other problems besides Alzheimer's some of which are reversible such as depression. Depression in the elderly is eminently treatable and many of the symptoms are the same. First, have her doctor do a complete physical exam. If there is no physical explanation for these behavioral changes, go to step two. There are Alzheimer's and Dementia Diagnostic Centers all over the state which can meet with you and your mother, do an assessment and diagnosis, and send the information to her own doctor for f/u.

This is the place to start in your efforts to help your mother.

Before relocating to a retirement community ...

Q: I read Las Vegas is the new Delray Beach for retirement living. We are ready for better weather, beautiful desert, and a state without these terrible taxes. Please send me information on independent living for Nevada.

A: There are so many factors to consider before giving up your community and relocating. We hear from our retirees who do this-only to find they made a blunder which they can't afford to reverse. There is lots of homework for you to do in making this decision. A few things to consider;

The taxes are lower, but are there other costs which may eat into your savings such as high insurance costs? Does your health insurance cover you in the new location? Is the weather palatable all year round? What about proximity to loved ones and friends? When the desert becomes subdivisions with future migrations will you still want to live there? Have you already rented there for 6 months during the worst season of the year, and enjoyed the people, the activities, found good physicians, felt like it could become home?

A move can be just the thing-or just the wrong thing. Take your time and do your homework!

The information is in the mail.

Do I have an anger management problem?

Q: My father was a rageaholic, and my 18 year old son seems to have inherited it. How do I know if I have an anger management problem?

A: There is no clinical evidence that anger management problems are inherited, although a low frustration tolerance or the tendency to be irritable may be. However, the way you express anger can certainly be taught in the home, along with other life's lessons. Ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Do people tiptoe around me because of my potential reactions?
  • When I think of past incidents that made me angry, do I feel the anger all over again?
  • Have I lost relationships or jobs because of my anger?
  • Do I often correct other people's ways, decisions, workstyle or opinions to fit my own?

If you answer yes to these questions, you may want to look into anger management classes. If you are motivated, you can learn to honor your angry feelings -while having more control over your behavior and responses so you don't do damage to yourself or others.

How do I get a parking permit for persons with disabilities

Q: I had back surgery two months ago and I am unable at this time to walk distances safely. How do I get a parking permit so that my husband can park in those convenient parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities?

A: The law requires every city, town, and village in New York State to appoint an agent (usually the city, town or village clerk) to issue these parking permits. DMV does not issue the permits. Unless your disability is visually apparent to the clerk, you must present a note from your doctor stating proof of your disability. Fill out form MV-664.1 and have your doctor complete it before bringing it to the clerk along with your driver's licence or your disabled license plate if you have one. Remember-the permit travels with you-you can use it while traveling in any vehicle.

Helping a sibling with the loss of a mate

Q: My sister lost her husband of 8 years. The family expected her to mourn for a year and then resume her regular routine, but now it has been two years and she still cries when she talks about him, avoids places they visited together, and has not returned to her previous gregarious self. Is she in trouble?

A: Please be aware that everyone's reaction to the loss of a loved one is as individual as they are. Grief is a complicated process and can take a long time for there to be some resolution and a return to a different level of equilibrium. The literature indicates that women grieve longer than men- anywhere from 2-5 years while men grieve an average of 1-3 years. Whether your sister is grieving or developing a major depression is usually dependent on how severe and persistent her symptoms are. Is she functioning normally in most of her activities of daily living such as sleep, eating, maintaining a job or some form of structure? Is she isolating herself socially and appear to be more withdrawn? If her functioning is affected she may want to be evaluated for depression and get some medication. Otherwise, it may be helpful for her to get some bereavement counseling or to join a support group for widows and widowers to get more support in dealing with her grief.