In our Q&A series with leading doctors – Ask the Doctor, Dr Monika Dass, leading psychologist, responds to questions from our seniors.
A little about Dr Monika Dass: Dr Dass is a Chartered Psychologist, a Chartered Scientist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, UK. Professionally, she has counselled over 12,500 individuals in a span of 20 years and has published several papers in both Indian and international journals.
A trained pianist and vocalist from the Trinity College of Music, London, Dr Dass has influenced many lives with the joyful learning of music. She has been actively involved in several popular musicals such as The Sound of Music, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and so on… with her expertise in developing children through drama. She firmly believes that any extracurricular activity can help tap into one’s potential and bring out the best in an individual.
I am 70 years’ old and live alone. My children have moved abroad, and they hardly visit or call me. I am really hurt and sometimes these thoughts cloud my mind and I take to drinking. I feel anxious stepping out and don’t have any friends. How do I make my life better? – Seema Roy
Ma’am, what is stopping you from contacting them yourself? Why do elders always wait to be called… phone them…once a week, even if it’s for a few minutes. This is your way of showing you care.
Secondly, the question you need to ask yourself is how come they do not visit or call you? Is there a grey area in your relationship with them? Are there constant arguments and fights on the telephone? Another thing to contemplate is that…when they were young, did you give them enough time? Quality time?
Making life better: Stop drinking to solve your problems and sadness. Have a glass or two when you are surrounded by people you like. Secondly, try and figure out why you don’t have friends at this age. Do you get into unnecessary arguments, are you unpleasant with people, are you overly judgemental? Why are people avoiding you? Remember people enjoy the good company of friends always.
Look at the pattern involved here: a) you have children who are avoiding you, not in touch with you etc. b) you have no friends.
The equation needs to be changed around….and only you can do this. Firstly, start thinking positively, be kind to others, stop criticising others, stop nagging others, stop trying to find fault. Change your mindset. Change your approach to life. Make an effort to get in touch. Make an effort to find friends whose company you are comfortable in and enjoy. Stop trying to control situations which are beyond your control.
How can I help my grandparents ease their anxiety levels? They get defensive the minute I try to speak about mental health. – Pooja Singh
I’m not surprised that your grandparents get defensive when you discuss their mental health. This is not the way to ease their anxiety. Instead, spend quality time with them, read to them, listen to music with them, go for a walk with them, discuss things that are happening in the world, play simple card games, take them for a drive every day…. but don’t touch the subject of mental health.
The key is to create happiness for them, make them feel at ease.
Can you imagine what they are going through (in their minds) at this stage of their lives with their mental health issues.
I am a 72-year-old retired citizen, my son is almost 40 and is still dependent on me for paying his bills. I have never said no to him before, is it right if I say no now? He is my son and I fear that if I don’t help, he won’t be able to manage. What should I do? – Suresh Desai
Sir, it is about time you said NO! Ask yourself why a 40-year-old is still dependent on you? Why have you never said NO? Initially, when this whole business of borrowing money from you started, you must have felt sorry, responsible, felt you needed to help etc. However, there comes a time when you have to stop. He is an adult. Why are you allowing him to take advantage of you? In fact, he should start thinking of helping you out in some way!
My advice: STOP paying his bills. Get down to the root cause of his problems and see if he can be helped out in any other way. If he is married, all the more reason why you need to stop. If both partners are earning enough and more…they are taking advantage of you. Find out what the issue is.
Also, remember you need to keep money aside for medical treatment and for your last years in comfort…
Names changed to protect identities.
Have a question for Dr Monika Dass? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with Dr Monika Dass in the subject line. We will change names to protect your identity. Ask the Doctor with Dr Monika Dass will appear every other Thursday.