Dear Abby: Prone to falls, she shouldn’t be baby-sitting

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DEAR ABBY: My mother is 70. She lives alone and has been diagnosed with mild dementia and hydrocephalus. She has fallen numerous times and hurt herself, can no longer drive and needs help with household tasks.

The problem is, a relative keeps asking her to baby-sit her 5- and 7-year-old sons. The doctor has said in front of Mom that she shouldn’t, because the boys will distract her and she’ll have a hard time focusing on her balance and getting up.

I have told this relative that Mom shouldn’t be watching the kids, but she refuses to listen. (Other relatives say she will be fine if she does.)

My mother loves watching these kids and I understand that. But I’m more concerned about her well-being. Not sure what to do about this. Can you help? — CONCERNED IN TENNESSEE

DEAR CONCERNED: Speak to the doctor and see if he/she will put in writing what was said to you and your mom about not baby-sitting. If you get it in writing, you can share it with the mother of those children and the other relatives.

Frankly, as concerned as I am about your mother losing her balance because she is distracted, I am equally concerned about the welfare of the kids. If your mom should fall and hit her head or break a hip, would they know what to do to help her? And as she becomes more confused, if something like a fire should happen, would she be competent enough to get the children out and call the fire department?

What you have described could be a recipe for disaster, and I am shocked at the irresponsibility of that mother.

DEAR ABBY: There is a guy that I kind of like at school, but he’s really shy and doesn’t really talk to anybody. I have talked to him a couple times, and he’s really nice and has good manners.

He sits with me and my group every day at lunch, and I see him around school. I say hi to him every time, but I’m not really getting any results. I would really love some guidance. — SHY TEEN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SHY TEEN: I think you are doing everything you can right now without scaring him off. On the plus side, this boy is comfortable with your group or he wouldn’t be having lunch with you.

If you all socialize beyond eating together (such as going to school dances or sporting events), make sure he knows he’s welcome. If he takes you up on it, it will give you both a chance to get to know each other better, and it may help him to overcome some of his shyness.

DEAR ABBY: I just want people to know you can succeed in raising your kids as a single parent if you put your mind to it.

I’ve worked in fast food, retail and in nursing homes as a certified nursing assistant — all jobs people call “dead end” jobs. I’m proud to say my kids are now grown and college-educated.

I’m writing because I want to reassure single parents out there that it is possible. — LOYAL READER IN ALABAMA

DEAR LOYAL READER: Congratulations on a job well done.

Another example that comes to mind would be Ben Carson, M.D., an internationally respected pediatric neurosurgeon. He was raised by a single mother who had only a third-grade education, and he was a recent Republican candidate for president of the United States.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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