Making a backup pie for the holidays

Dear Annie: For the past three years, we’ve been hosting Thanksgiving at our house. My parents used to host it, but they are slowing down a lot, and I didn’t want them to have that burden. I work full time, and my wife and I have an incredibly busy schedule between work and the kids. To make the holiday more manageable, our tradition is to do it potluck-style. We take care of the turkey; the rest is left to everyone else.

It’s worked great for the most part, but the past two years, my uncle Brian offered to bring the pumpkin pie and then seemed to forget all about it, showing up at the house empty-handed. My wife wants to just bake the pie herself this year, but Uncle Brian is again insisting we let him do it. In fact, he seemed pretty offended when we brought it up. He’s a bachelor, 75 and recently retired, so he has a lot of time on his hands.

Would it be rude of us to have a backup pie ready in case he forgets again? I don’t want to insult him. — No Dessert

Dear Dessert: Though family is what really creates the Thanksgiving spirit, pumpkin pie sure doesn’t hurt. I think it would be smart, not rude, for you to have one ready in case Uncle Brian drops the ball again. To spare his feelings, keep it out of sight until you’re sure you need it. If he ends up bringing one, you can give the spare pie to a shelter or family who might appreciate it.

The bigger concern here, though, is your uncle’s forgetfulness. Please encourage him to talk to his doctor about his memory problems.

Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “Scared of My Friends,” who wrote in about people driving in their 70s when they shouldn’t. My son lives with me, and we share driving. He is quick to tell me if I do something wrong, but he has not suggested yet that I am a poor driver.

I think the problem comes in for some people my age when family members don’t live nearby or if public transportation is poor. In addition, often no one wants to confront the elder about losing that independence. Often, when family members are near or visit, they do all the driving and never ride with the elder, so they have no idea how bad the situation is.

With most of my friends, I always offer to drive, and they are happy to let me. I have added “blind spot” mirrors to my car. Because I am a registered nurse, I have given driving tests to my doctor to use during physical exams. They check cognitive ability and reaction time (for example, walking 10 paces, turning and walking back in 10 seconds or less), in addition to the usual eye exams, medication questions and flexibility tests. But so far, these have not been used.

Although my state makes people older than 75 renew their licenses every year with an eye exam, that is the only requirement. I have watched people who are stumbling renew their licenses without a question by the examiners. This is an issue that is not being addressed, not only by family members but by the DMV and medical professionals. Who is willing to be first? — RN in Her 70s