Dear Annie: My father is in his late 70s and lives next door to my husband and me. Dad is a capable adult and maintains his household. I love him and am happy that he can take care of himself.
Lately, however, I have noticed that Dad is becoming short tempered and frustrated when he does not get the response he wants or doesn't understand what is being said. If he perceives the slightest impatience in your voice, he aggressively accuses you of disrespect.
It is not uncommon to have to tell him something three or four times during the same conversation. Even more problematic is when you tell him something he doesn't want to hear. He will just continue to ask you over and over, as if your response will change. When you point out that you've had this discussion already, he claims he didn't hear you. He also has become less willing to figure things out for himself. If someone is around, he will ask a series of questions even for the most basic of tasks.
I am worried that this may be a medical issue. Any ideas? — Need Patience
Dear Patience: You are right to be worried. Your father may have enough hearing loss to make conversations difficult or even incomprehensible. He may be having some cognitive problems that frighten him, causing him to overreact. His inability to temper his frustration could also be a medical issue. Ask your father if you can accompany him to his doctor for a checkup, and you will then be able to discuss these issues with the physician.
Dear Annie: I'm so happy that you published "After a While" by Veronica Shoffstall. My previous copy had been in my wallet for such a long time that it became yellow and tattered.
While I know this piece is about the ending of a relationship, I have underlined several phrases that relate to my life with my children and grandchildren. I've read several letters in your column from parents whose children have distanced themselves for no reason they can understand. We can't depend on our children to continue to be there as often as we wish, as they have their own families and their own separate lives. Sure we miss them, but we can't sit around and feel sorry for ourselves.
Here is what I have double-underlined and repeat often in my mind: "So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."
When my kids visit, they never have a clue how much I've missed them. But I believe they are happy knowing I have a busy life filled with many activities and that I am "decorating my own soul." Shortly, I will receive five phone calls on my 77th birthday. Thereafter, once again, I won't "wait for someone to bring me flowers." — Judy in Indiana
Dear Judy: Bless you for understanding the wider interpretation of the message and putting it to good use. Your children are luckier than they know.
Dear Annie: Fed Up in a Lonely Home, who suffers from bipolar disorder and an unsupportive family, can find additional resources through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups (free, confidential and peer-facilitated) are an important resource, as is Peer-to-Peer, a 10-session educational program taught by individuals in recovery.
For family members, the NAMI Family Support Groups and the Family-to-Family Education Program can be invaluable. "Fed Up" can find out whether these programs are offered in his or her area at nami.org. — Guy Beales, President, NAMI North Central Massachusetts
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 www.creators.com.