Dear Annie: My parents are both in their 80s and don't get around well anymore. Dad has a history of verbal (sometimes physical) abuse, and Mom has always put up with it. Recently, Mom has been cornering family members and telling them how crazy Dad is, that he screams at her all the time, hits her with his cane and pinches her. We had a domestic relations caseworker come to the house when Dad wasn't home, and Mom told the caseworker that everything was fine and not to come back. She told me Dad would be upset if he found out.
My mother is in better physical shape than Dad, and I'm quite sure she could hurt him if she chose to. But she is becoming forgetful and making mental errors. She blames it on living with Dad. My father cannot deal with her mind going, so he yells at her even more. Despite that, she continues to make him dinner, put on his shoes and help him get around. My wife and I have begged her to come live with us, but she refuses.
She wants us to tell Dad's doctor that he is crazy. I don't think he's crazy. He's a depressed man whose body is failing. He was prescribed antidepressants, but won't take them. Mom tells Dad that she's sick of him, and he says he can't stand looking at her. But apparently, they can't live without each other. Any advice? — Help
Dear Help: Some couples fall into a dysfunctional pattern of behavior and cannot envision living any other way. You cannot force Mom to confirm abuse to the authorities, nor can you make Dad take his antidepressants. Nonetheless, if your mother is showing signs of dementia, and Dad is abusive, you need to be more proactive.
Ask each parent whether you can accompany them to their doctor for a checkup. That will give you the opportunity to discuss the problem. You also can write the physician or call and leave a message with all the pertinent information. Please keep an eye on their situation, be attentive to Mom's complaints, and try to get both of them out of the house, individually, as often as possible.
Dear Annie: How does one get a job in this century? Is it enough to send online applications and not follow up with a phone call or a visit to the business? Please help. — A Wife
Dear Wife: Send applications in whatever form the company requests (most now prefer them to be online). If you do not hear back within 10 days that the application was received, follow up with a phone call or an email. If the company does not let you know whether or not they are interested within another two weeks, call or email again. Make sure your resume is current and include a cover letter. You also can check at your local library for assistance in putting the materials together and navigating the application process. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Concerned Mother," who wants her son to notify her when he's going out of town. If those people are in their 80s, it means their son is in his 60s. They don't have any reason to need to know where he is. If he has a note in his wallet that says "in case of an emergency" and a contact, that's plenty.
When do you get to live your own life? This is not a "close" family. This is suffocating. Old folks, go play golf. Take up bridge. — Betsey
Dear Betsey: Parents don't stop worrying about their children the day they reach adulthood. They always want to know that the kids are safe, especially when they are traveling and can't be reached. How hard is it to reassure the folks with a call saying, "I'll be in Italy for a week"?
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.