DEAR AMY: My mother and "Barbie" started working in a nursing home more than 25 years ago and are good friends.
Mom retired in 2008, and Barbie still works part time. Mom suffered a stroke last spring and wanted us to put her in the home where she worked.
At first, Barbie was so helpful. She truly was a godsend. But things have changed. Barbie visits my mom at the nursing home every single day, and I know mom likes to see her. My brother and I try to visit mom at least once a week, but our jobs and family commitments make it impossible for us to see her as often as we would like.
Barbie has taken over. I can't call my mom without Barbie picking up the phone, and she doesn't even work in my mom's wing.
She shows up at my mother's therapy sessions, has insulted her care manager, tried to insinuate herself into care meetings, has attempted to accompany mom to doctors' appointments and even tried to persuade one of mom's doctors to change her medication.
How do I get this to stop?
Barbie is not on any approved contact list, but she and mom have been friends for so long that people think they are related.
— Stressed Out
DEAR STRESSED: Contact the director of your mother's nursing home — as well as her care manager — and ask for a meeting with you and your brother.
They should be aware of "Barbie's" activities — certainly her effort to interfere with or control your mother's appointments or medications.
It sounds as if your mother values this friendship very much, but Barbie is a nursing home staff person and must adhere to the standards established by the facility. She must also respect HIPAA medical privacy laws.
Barbie should be told exactly what sort of contact with your mother is legal and professionally acceptable. You and your brother should keep a very close eye on the professional boundaries and make sure they aren't violated.
Otherwise, this friendship sounds like a source of pleasure for your mother, so you shouldn't discourage it — unless she wants you to.
DEAR AMY: A long time ago, I broke off my engagement, and shortly afterward married another man. We were married for more than 30 years when he died of cancer.
Do you feel it would be inappropriate for me to try to contact my former fiancé after 40 years?
After I broke the engagement, we had no further contact.
I am curious as to where life has taken him after all these years. I would like to drop him a note and offer to meet him for coffee and conversation to catch up on the past.
What is your opinion?
DEAR CURIOUS: My opinion is that you are lonely for companionship and so you want to test the waters by returning to a familiar "lost love."
This is a completely understandable impulse. I've had it myself, which is why after my long-ago divorce I dated everyone I ever knew in college.
Catching up after 40 years could be fascinating.
Your motives might not be completely clear to you — or your motives might be mixed — but you should be prepared that he has changed, that you have changed, and that if he is married or in a committed relationship he might see this contact as an unwelcome intrusion. I guarantee that his wife would.
You should familiarize yourself with Facebook. Post an online profile, and use it to get in touch with all sorts of people. The way all of our personal webs intersect, I bet it wouldn't be two weeks before he was aware of how to contact you.
DEAR AMY: I can't believe that the only advice you gave to the new mom who wanted to work from home was to offer child care.
Is that really still the only option in these days of the Internet and everything attached to it? And what if she didn't want to share her time with her son with another child/children?
I'm about to make a living (a good one, considering my skills) as a copy editor. That's one job you can do from home.
— Happily Employed
DEAR EMPLOYED: There are myriad ways to make a decent living while caring for kids at home. I started my own writing career as a freelancer from home. Good luck to you!
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