Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. I am one of a circle of “girlfriends” all in our 70s and 80s. We all wound up in Florida from different places around the country. Since most of our husbands have passed on, we are a support group for each other, as well as being friends. Whereas most of us have lived through trouble with our children, one of the women is now having difficulties with her granddaughter, “Gladys.” I would like to give her some useful advice, but I don’t know what it is! Maybe you can help.

Gladys, 50, has pretty much made a mess of her life. She’s never been able to sustain a marriage or a job. She has a modest amount of money. (Both of her parents are deceased.) What she is asking of my friend — her grandmother — is that she lie so Gladys can get into assisted living. My friend is on the fence. She does not approve of lying, and she is not sure that a retirement setup is the place for a woman who is 50 years old. What should I advise her?


A. This I have never heard of before. Most people who actually belong in assisted living initially have some qualms about being around “all those old people,” not to mention whether they actually need “assistance.” I don’t know if Gladys thinks this is a good idea for husband hunting, living frugally, or what, but such places require documentation, such as a birth certificate or a Social Security number. When the government is involved, as it often is, the minimum age requirement can be 55 or 62, depending on various factors.


I would advise your friend to tell her granddaughter the following: She will not lie about the age issue; she does not know how to forge a birth certificate; she doesn’t find it a good idea; and until Gladys is actually eligible for assisted living, she should find an affordable rental or a roommate.

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Q. I have a life-threatening food allergy whereby eating even the tiniest bit of the offending ingredient, or even cross-contamination with a knife, could literally kill me. I have attended many social events and thought your readers similarly afflicted could benefit from knowing my way of handling the problem.

When you arrive at a venue, ask a server to direct you to either the catering manager or the restaurant manager. Tell this person exactly what you are allergic to. I promise you, they do not want you to have a reaction on their premises and will do their best to accommodate your needs. This is discreet and does not require the host or hostess to deal with your food allergies.

Safely Eating Out for 32 Years

A. Your solution to what is becoming more and more of a problem is a good one. I like the aspect of dealing with the person responsible for the food rather than the host or hostess, who might possibly garble something in the translation — or feel burdened by having to relay messages that one diner is kosher, another is lactose intolerant or can have no gluten . . . and hold the peanuts.

Don’t laugh. Years ago, Carol Channing was eating macrobiotic, and she would bring a brown paper bag with her food into very chic restaurants. The important thing for people at risk from certain foods is not to keel over — or even have to use their Epipens.

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