Unopened Bills

By Doug Mayberry

January 20, 2018 4 min read

Q: While visiting our widowed mother recently, my sister and I learned she hasn't been paying her bills. We found a stack of unopened envelopes on her kitchen counter that looks months old.

When we asked mom why she hasn't been on top of her payments, she said that she just forgot to deal with them. When going through the letters, we found that she's been paying a lot of late payments in the last few months.

What can we do?

A: These symptoms could be early warnings signs that your mother needs help and perhaps monitoring. Try to assess what she needs by asking your mother how you can help her with her bills and balancing her checkbook.

It will help to relate to her emotionally and make her feel less under attack. You can mention a time when you've been affected a late payment — discuss how that made you feel, and tell her that you don't want her to feel that way as well.

Assure your mother that you are worried and want to help her, not yourselves. You can suggest she allow you to help her go through her mail with her and ask her to approve payment.

If she begins to get defensive and confrontational, assure your mother that you believe that any inheritance she might give you is a gift, not a right. These topics are very sensitive.

When you visit, pay attention to her eyesight. Check to see whether she's walking steadily, eating properly, taking care of her home, and maintaining her personal hygiene.

Be patient and sensitive to her reactions. She may not immediately react the way you'd like, but later come around to the idea. At the right time, your mother will become more willing to accept your help. Paying attention to her will reassure her of how much you love her! — Doug


Q: These days, I never finish anything I start. I keep a short list of daily tasks but often end up reusing the list from the day before. I don't know what's getting in my way.

How can I get going?

A: The key is to accept the fact that your own choices are preventing you from success, not any lack of time. You will want to focus on better time management.

If you have a long list, you may feel overwhelmed. Take on tasks one by one.

Multitasking becomes more complicated and frustrating as we age. Remember that you have as much time per day as everyone else. If you're retired, you probably have more time than others!

Most seniors find that they are much more productive in the mornings. Try to get started on your list before noon.

Additionally, many tasks require you to find supplementary information. When you're making your list, compose a note about all of the steps involved with completing a task. Then do them.

Small steps can be vitally helpful with getting tasks done. Once you organize your mind, you'll be able to organize your life better! — Emma

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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