Dear Annie: I have an 85-year-old acquaintance who has dementia. "Rosa" lives alone, but she can no longer cook, operate the microwave, stove or even the toaster, so a year ago, I called Meals on Wheels.
Yesterday, I picked Rosa up at home, and when she opened the door, the heat almost knocked me over. It was in the 90s, and instead of turning on the air conditioning, Rosa had accidentally turned on the TV. She was wearing the same suit she'd worn to church for two weeks, and it was filthy and stained. Her hair hadn't been combed in days.
Rosa has no idea what day of the week, month or year it is. A woman comes to help her four hours a day, but Rosa doesn't trust her, so they argue constantly, and the care is substandard. Meals are not eaten or refrigerated, her clothes are not washed, and she is not bathed. She also doesn't take her medication.
I have called Social Services, taken her to doctors' appointments, and I pick her up for church three times a week. Most of the time, I have to dress her or she will stand in the middle of the floor, completely confused.
A few months ago, I took Rosa to the hospital because she had chest pains, but the doctors found nothing physically wrong. Her son came into town (only the second time in over a year), and they said she could not go home alone. He took her to a nursing home, but she refused to stay, so he took her back home and left her.
I cannot find anyone to help me. Social Services won't do anything unless Rosa agrees to enter a nursing home, which she won't. Her son does nothing. Can you offer any suggestions? — Chesapeake, Va.
Dear Chesapeake: You are a caring friend. If you think the son would be willing and can afford it, suggest he hire a geriatric care manager to handle his mother's situation. He can contact the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers at caremanager.org. Otherwise, it's time to call Adult Protective Services before Rosa sets the house on fire and forgets how to open the door to get out.
Dear Annie: My sister graciously hosts our family's Labor Day party at her home. The problem is that "Karen" bakes numerous pies (her specialty) from scratch in her "one-butt" kitchen after everyone arrives. She is monopolized with food preparation and therefore has no time to visit.
We all contribute food to the celebration. How can we tactfully get Karen to bake her pies ahead of time so we can all sit on the spacious wraparound porch with a glass of iced tea? We have suggested this, but she insists the pies are best when served right out of the oven. What do you think? — Eyes on the Pies
Dear Eyes: We think Karen likes to be in her "one-butt" kitchen. If she preferred to be on her spacious porch, she would prepare the pies in advance. You can tell her that you don't notice much difference if the pies are made ahead, and the real treat is spending more time with her. But otherwise, let her do what she wants.
Dear Annie: My wife and I run a small business specializing in video recording of live events, and we use state-of-the-art equipment. We recently recorded a local beauty pageant. The microphones picked up everything, including the men 30 feet away, discussing the attributes of the contestants in very crude language.
In this digital age, everyone should be aware that what you say in public isn't necessarily private. It took a week of editing before we could forward copies to the girls' mothers. — R.J. in Illinois
Dear R.J.: We miss the days when you could have a private conversation and not worry that someone was eavesdropping with a recorder, but times have changed. Thanks for the reminder.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.