ASK DENISE: Reader can’t stop worrying about aging parents

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Denise Harrison

Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.

Dear Readers: This is my 100th “Ask Denise” column in the Mitchell News-Journal. I have had so much fun hearing from everyone and getting to write back to you. Please keep those emails and calls coming, and I look forward to having the privilege of answering many more of your questions.

Dear Denise: My parents are getting much older and are beginning to show their age. It makes me sad and nervous while I am around them because I can’t stop thinking about how they probably don’t have much longer to live. How can I stop feeling like this?

Dear Reader: Your letter reminded me of a comic I saw a while back. It showed Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore sitting side-by-side, looking at a sunset. Eeyore said, “You know, one day we are going to die.” Winnie replied, “Yes, but the rest of the days, we are going to live.” 

While it is natural to worry about the future, in reality, we have no control over it. In effect, when we waste time worrying about what tomorrow brings, we are depriving ourselves of the peace and happiness that today has for us. Try taking one day at a time and cherishing every moment that you get to spend with your loved ones. Create precious memories and share lots of laughter. Don’t ruin today because of your fear of tomorrow. If your anxiety continues, contact a mental health professional for help working through your feelings.

Dear Denise: I am paranoid about all the viruses and sickness that are going around. I find myself avoiding people, and I can’t always do that. What can I do to keep me safe?

Dear Reader: I understand your concern, especially with the threat of the new Coronavirus scare. I am not a medical professional, so I cannot give medical advice. I can, however, share what I have read. Most medically respected publications are saying viruses are both airborne and contact transmitted, but the Coronavirus’ particles are heavy and fragile, so do not live long on surfaces. So, there is no worry of people catching the virus from buying products manufactured in countries that are infected. The medical professionals also were adamant about the fact that you cannot catch it from your pet. As with any cold or flu virus, prevention is basic caretaking. Wash your hands after touching something, or use hand sanitizer if needed.  Avoid people that are sneezing or coughing. If you are sick, stay at home for at least 5-7 days. Practice good health habits, such as getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, and trying to reduce stress. 

If you develop any flu-like symptoms, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Anti-viral medications tend only to work if given within the first 48 hours of the appearance of symptoms, to the best of my knowledge. I wish you a healthy and safe winter.

Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor in Spruce Pine. Email questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.