Q: Unfortunately, after having a long, wonderful marriage to our father, our mother died four years ago. Dad is 67. My brother and sisters realize he is not a happy camper and is growing increasingly lonelier. He lives in the home where we were raised. He makes no effort to make friends or to find new relationships. He is increasingly homebound. We hope he can and will make new relationships. How can we encourage him to do so?
A: Does he know he has your support for a new "mother"? Often both fathers and adult children fail to communicate their thoughts, as it is uncomfortable for them. It appears that he is depressed and finding it difficult to cope with his current lifestyle. Loneliness becomes lonelier, festering until changes are made. The TV can become his best friend.
Older single men who are living alone and without the encouragement and love from a partner tend to lose interest in their appearance, do not exercise much, like themselves less and lose interest in socializing. Women are attracted by happy, humorous, energetic and caretaking men who will protect them. If her friends like him, too, that is a bonus.
For him to become socially involved and meet single women, you should suggest that he join a gym, go back to school, sign up for a senior center membership, attend singles club dances, join an avocational club or possibly invite a lady out for a meal once a week. He may have fun attending a cooking school, joining a history book club or going on other outgoing diversions. Frequently, sports friends' wives invite single men for dinner or cards. Blind dates can become partners. Mine did!
Communication is an important part of living alone. Laughing, sharing ideas before making decisions and discussing current lifestyles and other life- impacting issues are therapeutic. Ongoing phone calls and e-mails can keep partners involved. Positive self-talk is an important part of the process.
Remind your dad that grief will be over when he chooses it to be. Life is an adventure, and he shouldn't miss out on his share of happiness!
Q: My doctor has recommended a non-emergency operation for me. With so much talk about the inherent dangers of any hospital experience, I am extremely nervous about scheduling an appointment. One of my friends caught a staph infection, and another fell. Can you help me?
A: Fear, uncertainty and doubt are common to all of us when we face hospitalization. Psych yourself up to believe you will be happier and healthier after the procedure. Find peers who have experienced good hospital experiences. Be courageous. Take your love in your suitcase, and believe you are doing the right thing.
Maintain healthy thoughts. And if you are religious, put your faith into your beliefs. Maintain a sense of humor with your doctor, nurses and helpers. Ask a family member or friend to bring a box of candy to share with the hospital staff. That will sweeten your hospital stay!
Doug Mayberry's weekly column, "Dear Doug," appears at creators.com.