Relationship Advice

Kerri-Anne Kennerley plays agony aunt, answers your burning family and safety questions

All with her signature honesty.

By Kerri-Anne Kennerley
Kerri-Anne Kennerley is known for her no-nonsense approach and straight-shooting advice so when Yours readers asked her their most pressing family and relationship questions, she got right to the point...
Q. There have been a few break-ins in my neighbourhood lately and I’m worried my house might be the next target. I live by myself so if anything happened I wouldn’t know what to do. Imagine if I was in the house when the intruders came – it doesn’t bear thinking about! I have a house alarm but right now I jump at every sound. What can I do so I’m not so scared? Scared, SA
Living in fear must be so stressful for you! Please speak to your local police and tell them how anxious you are. They may be able to make some suggestions. I hope that you’ve made your home secure in terms of window locks and safe doors. If you invest in making your home crime-safe you’ll feel so much more confident knowing it’s very difficult or almost impossible to break in. You have a house alarm but consider a personal alarm with a back-to-base call. This alerts a security company so can give you more assurance. A loud noise will scare most people away. While we have to be vigilant about our security and take precautions, don’t let it overwhelm you and ruin your peaceful home.
Q. I find my job stressful – it involves long hours and shift work, which makes it difficult to socialise. I’m 58 and longing for more of a social life but, more to the point, I want to meet somebody special. I’ve been a widow for 10 years; my husband died when he was just 50. I can’t get another job as I’m not qualified in anything and nothing else will pay the salary I’m on now. I feel trapped and the loneliness is getting the better of me. How can I get out of this rut? “Trapped”, WA
To get out of a rut you have to do something different. Doing the same thing every day just because it’s what you get paid for isn’t making you happy. Although you say you’re not qualified to do anything else, I urge you to break the cycle and give something else a go. You may be surprised at how industrious you are when you’re not doing shiftwork with terrible hours, and feeling exhausted and depressed. You may have to sacrifice some salary but it might be worth it! Only you can break your cycle.
Q. I lost my soulmate at the age of 69. He lost his battle to cancer just 18 months ago. I miss him dearly but I feel like I’m doing OK considering, taking each day as it comes. Friends and family have been a pillar of strength and offered unconditional support… except one! She’s my close friend but she keeps forcing me to go out shopping and to the club to meet new people. Then the other week she said I should forget about the past and move on. I know she’s trying to help but I feel I am getting on with things – at my own pace. How can I tell her to give me space without upsetting her? “Frustrated”, Qld
I’m so sorry for your loss. You sound very together, but it is difficult at times I’m sure. Honesty with your friend seems the only way to let her know your grieving process is yours alone and that you don’t feel comfortable being rushed into another life. Yes, she means well but maybe she needs you more than you need her? Explain that you enjoy a certain pace of life, which may not quite match hers. Learn to say no! And use that word as a full sentence.

Q. I am the sole carer of my son, who is now 50. He has a severe learning disability and I’m deeply worried as I’m not getting younger and, with no other family, I don’t know who will take care of him once I’m gone. I have been unable to work for a long time, as I’ve stayed at home to care for him around the clock. As a result, I don’t have that much to leave behind to secure his future and pay for the care he needs. I’m frightened something will happen to me and there won’t be anyone to look after him. What can I do to ease my worries? “Concerned”, WA
You share this type of concern with many others in a similar situation. It’s so important to start the transition from parental care to outside care. Each state has different services, but the national program is called Carer Gateway. Contact them and get advice on what help is available so your son can gain independence or at least start being confident with other people helping him on a daily basis.
Q. I’m 60 years old and desperately want to retire. I’ve worked very hard all my life to allow for myself and my wife to have a comfortable retirement, but now I’m panicking as I’m worried the super I’ve accrued over time will not be enough. I really want to enjoy my retirement, but I’m concerned I’ll always be fretting that I’ll run out of money. Over the past few months, it’s been all I can think about and I’m finding it very stressful. Do I carry on working for now or trust I have enough? How do you know how much will be enough to get by? “Anxious”, NSW
Nobody knows how much money they’ll need as nobody knows just how long they’ll live or what the future holds. The longer you stay employed, the more super you will accumulate. At the same time, not working would drain your super, so working longer is twice the advantage. If you can stick it out in your current job for another few years, you should be fine, but if it’s simply too stressful, perhaps you could find other work that will suit you better. Part-time work or consultancy may be options. You could also set up a meeting with a financial planner. They come at a cost, but it could be a good investment for you.
Q. I’m thinking of joining some kind of exercise group for seniors because I want to keep my body going as long as I can. I would also like to meet other women just like me and maybe have a cup of tea afterwards. I’m just not sure how to go about finding groups in my local area and I don’t want to have to travel too far. Any tips? “Eager”, Qld
Great thinking and planning to keep your body moving. Also, being socially engaged has been proven to extend life and its quality. If you have internet access, start with your local council website – it should list nearby groups and activities. There are also fabulous senior websites dedicated to helping people just like yourself. If you don’t have a computer, find a friend or relative with one, or go to an internet cafe. There are plenty of great activities you can get involved in, from yoga, tai chi and Pilates to walking clubs and Zumba. At these classes I’m sure you’ll find many people who think and feel just as you do and you can get together and have fun afterwards. Good luck!
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