Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy,
I just learned that my boyfriend has a gambling addiction . I have been trying to figure out what was going on . He would get paid and then disappear for days at a time and then always be broke . He is good at making up excuses . In fact , they have been so good in making up excuses that I often have given him extra money to help out .
Well , I just saw some of his bills and he hadn't paid a lot of them for months . Plus , I saw receipts from a casino on several occasions . When I asked him about it , he admitted he likes to gamble . When I pressed him , he said that he is in debt because of it . What should I do ? I thought we were going to be a serious couple and get married , but now I don't know . I can't marry an active gambler . What can I do ?
Dating a Gambler 
Dear Dating  a Gambler,
In moderation, gambling is socially acceptable behavior.   However, when the impulse to gamble can’t be controlled, to the point of hurting oneself or others, it becomes a compulsion or a gambling addiction. And just like an alcoholic, they have to feed the addiction, regardless of the consequences. The compulsion continues to get stronger, and without help, he will not be able to stop. It's encouraging that your boyfriend told  you the truth, at least in part, about his problem . Now  it's your  turn  to put your  foot down . Tell him you care about him, but  make  it  clear  that you are unwilling to  make a commitment  to him if  he doesn't clean up  his  act .
Suggest he  go to  Gambler's Anonymous for counseling . It is a twelve-step program for people who have a gambling addiction.
 ( You can  access meeting information for your state by calling the National Hotline at: 1-888-424-3577. 
He will be among people with same obsession as himself and may get a reality shock as he realizes he is like them.
He has to recognize that he has a problem and want to get help. If  not, he will  not follow through with the program or any kind of counseling.
You may have  to take  a step  back  from the relationship until he realizes the gravity of his problem and  takes action . It often takes  an extreme situation for  an addict  to make a change . It is not healthy  for you to be in this relationship, as it stands. 
Further assistance can be found at:

Dear Maxy , 
I am an 83-year-old widow in good health . My daughter lives about two hours away . She is 50 and well educated and has been in a long term relationship with an older retired man . She does a lot of caregiving for him and his family members .
Three years ago my daughter lost her job during an economic downturn and has made no attempt to find other employment . I have been giving her money every month and paid for a course in massage therapy , but she has not attempted to find a job in that field . She received insurance money to repair her home when it was flooded over the winter , but she hasn't done the repairs . Instead , she camps out at her boyfriend's apartment . When I ask , she will come and help me with certain things .
She is my only child and there are no other close relatives . I am not wealthy , but am comfortable . My daughter will inherit trust money and my house when I die , and this bothers me . I don't want what my husband and I worked and planned for to eventually go to her boyfriend and his family . I am thinking of changing my trust , leaving her a fixed amount and giving the rest to charity . Are there other alternatives ? 
Dear A. ,
There  are  always  alternatives . You  could  leave  your  daughter  the  house  and  trust, but only under certain conditions, in order  to exclude  the boyfriend  and  his  family. An estate attorney can easily frame all the legalities for you in a revised or new will.  Although,  that won't necessarily  change how  your  daughter  chooses  to live her  life . It sounds like she is discouraged, has come to an impasse in her life and can't move beyond it.  Perhaps you can get her to open up about it to you. See if you can encourage her to get moving again and definitely inform her you cannot go on subsidizing her lifestyle indefinitely. In fact, that may be one of the reasons she has come to a are making things too easy for her.
 There  is certainly nothing  wrong  with giving  some (or all)  of  your  money  to  a charity  that does some good in the world . The attorney will help  you figure out  the various  possibilities  and  put  them in writing .

Dear Maxy ,
I have seen my sister gradually change from a simple packrat into a full-fledged hoarder . When I mentioned my concerns to her , she gets defensive and tells me it's OK , that is just how they live now .
I am especially worried about her children growing up in clutter and filth . To further complicate issues , my sister recently acquired a puppy and allows him to do his business all over the house .
I feel sorry for her . She suffers from depression and is on medication , but it's not enough . What Can I do to help her when she seems to be in denial ? 
Worried Sis 
Dear Worried ,
Your  sister's medication can not handle all her issues sufficiently.  Hoarding is a compulsive mental disorder and has to be treated by a doctor or health provider who is a specialized therapist in this field. Forced "clean outs" of the individual's home are extremely distressing and not effective in the long run, as the person does not learn how to combat the disorder and will give in to the compulsion again, resulting in another accumulation of stuff.
Hoarding can be a symptom of another disorder, such as : OCD
(obsessive-compulsive disorder) ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) depression, or grief. Accumulating things can give hoarders a sense of security and safety.  Hoarding deflects their focus from the thought processes that cause their distress and anxiety. 
They are hard to help because they do not recognize they have a problem and will not seek help on their own. As you are a close relative, it would be okay for you to speak to your sister's family doctor and get some referrals from him. Some communities have agencies that help with hoarding problems. Check with your local or county government for resources or 'Hoarding Task Force' in your area.
 You may also need to contact local authorities, such as  fire, public health and child protective services,  especially when health or safety is in question. The effects of hoarding on the children can be drastic, emotionally and physically and can socially isolate them along with their mother. They should be removed from that environment until their mother shows some improvement. 
For further information for yourself and other family members, check:  or - to locate resources in your area go to -
For self help pointers that you can assist her with, go to -

Dear Maxy ,
I have been overwhelmed for several months now . I just can't seem to get my life together . I lost my job a few months ago , and I have been looking for a job with no luck so far . I am single and have no one to help me . I honestly don't know how much longer I can take this . I feel like I just shut down at every turn . 
Friends were helping me out here and there , but I feel horrible about asking for their help . Plus , they are barely making ends meet themselves . I got on food stamps recently , but I hate that too . I feel like a mess . I went to the doctor about it and was prescribed some depression medicine . I am afraid to take it , though , because I'm afraid I won't get another job if an employer finds out that I take meds . What can I do ? 
Dear Stuck ,
Thank  you  for sharing  your  situation . You have  done the right  thing  by speaking of your pain out  loud . It  is also great  that  you went  to the  doctor  to be evaluated . You should take your meds. They will  help  you stabilize  your  emotions. Getting  healthy  is  the first and most important requirement  for  you  to turn your  life  around . Find  a way to continue seeing a mental health professional  who  can help  guide you . You can - and will fix this.
If you cannot afford to pay for counseling, did you know that dialing 211 in almost every part of the United States will connect you to human and social services for your area? The FCC's "Dial 211" info page outlines the types of services they offer, like housing and emergency shelter locations, mental health and work related counseling services. -
If you go to church, check there for free counseling options in your community. Many churches even have funds to pay for therapy if one of their members needs it . If you want a shoulder to cry on and someone who will listen with compassion, try this website - Another site with sympathetic and helpful volunteers -
 To get help with affordable housing - 
On the practical side, eat more peanut butter, remember rice is cheap and nourishing and don't forget KD's. That diet got me through school. Buy your clothes at thrift stores. Get outside and run; it's free and you'll get healthier. Keep in touch with people by volunteering. Job hunting can be discouraging but keep it up. An unemployed person is out of a job for an average of six months. You will find one.
You need a plan. Sit down and figure out what you want to do. Put aside the fact that you need money for a moment, because that fact colors every thought in your head. If you could get up tomorrow and do the thing that makes you happy....what would it be?  Now take the first step in that direction. Let me know how you are doing. Good luck,

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