November 29, 2019

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

November 29, 2019 4 min read

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been caring for my grandmother for the past eight years. We both have full-time jobs and two young children. Grandma has dementia, and her health and cognition have been declining significantly in the past six months, with multiple hospitalizations for dehydration and infections. It has taken a toll on my husband and me to manage her care at home, and after this last hospitalization, our family decided to place her in a nursing home.

The problem is, Grandma has a longtime neighbor friend who is interfering with our decision to place her in a care home. In spite of knowing my grandmother for 40 years, she knows her only superficially. Now that Grandma is in a care facility, this neighbor and her daughter have become very intrusive and are demanding that Grandma return home under our care. We have tried to provide home care, but it's too difficult at this point. The two of them also have tried to get sensitive health care information and have given the care home operator a lot of trouble.

We have told these neighbors to stop visiting Grandma and riling her up and to leave the care home operator alone since they cannot follow our request to respect my grandmother's privacy. They think Grandma is fine because she tells them she is, but they don't realize the extent of her dementia. What is the best way to handle this situation? — Stressed Caregiver in Hawaii

Dear Stressed: These people have no business interfering in Grandma's care. They have no right to her medical information, and they should not be a party to your decisions. Tell the care facility to deal with them however they choose. They certainly aren't the only ones to give them a hard time. If the neighbor should call you, tell her, "We appreciate your concern." Then hang up. You owe her nothing.

Dear Annie: In response to Agitated Student and Caring Brother, the 9-year-old boy who has problems with decimals, I think I might be able to help.

Decimals are numbers that aren't whole. For example, 1.5 is a number halfway between 1 and 2. Adding and subtracting decimals is easier when you stack the numbers on top of each other. Line up the decimal points and solve the problem as you would any other number. For example: 1.5 plus 1.5 equals 3. I like using money to help me out — $1.50 plus $1.50 equals $3. Or $1.75 less $1.50 equals 25 cents (or 0.25). Sometimes you might find numbers that have more numbers behind the decimal point, such as 1.75 minus 1.5. Just add zeroes to make the numbers the same length, making the shorter one 1.50.

The fun thing about decimals is, once you get the hang of them, it makes percentages easier — 0.25 is the same as 25 percent. But we'll save that for another day. — Indy

Dear Indy: Several readers attempted to provide a simple solution to the problem with decimals, and we hope yours helps. We love how our readers take care of one another.

Dear Annie: Can you print one more letter about kids in church and synagogues?

Many years ago, my then 2-year-old daughter would squirm off of her seat next to me and run up to the Bima (dais) at our synagogue and dance when the cantor sang. I would dash up and bring her back to the seats. One Friday evening, the rabbi smiled at both of us and said, "Leave her be. She wants to be close to the Torah (bible)." And so I sat down.

Thirty-three years later, that same daughter is the one teaching Torah, tutoring bar and bat mitzvah students, and leading services. The rabbi was right. Children should feel welcome at services. — M.

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at

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