Dear Annie: My mother is in her 80s, and I love her very much. At her age, she has earned certain privileges. And I understand we all have our little quirks that might annoy others.
The problem is my mom doesn't wear clean clothes. It started out that she would wear a certain outfit a couple of times before washing. Now, however, every outfit has a spot or stain on it. She will wear a piece of clothing for a couple of hours, and then put it back in the closet. If it is a heavier piece of clothing like a coat and it has a spill on it, it might be months before it gets washed. My mother is in good health and is perfectly capable of washing her clothing. If she wanted to, she could even hire a housekeeper. That said, if she wants to wear dirty clothing, who am I to push my standards on her? The real problem, though, is that Mom has a musty and stale smell on her at all times. When I open her closet, it nearly knocks me over. I have tried talking nicely to her about this. I even buy air fresheners for the closet. But the next time I visit, I notice the air fresheners are gone. When I ask my mom why she isn't using them, she says, "I can't smell, so they're a waste of money." Of course, money isn't a problem.
We have had the discussion that when a person gets older they start losing their sense of smell and taste. She agrees with this but doesn't incorporate this idea into her house, car or clothing. I know this may seem like a trivial problem, but I'm not sure what to do. — The Nose Knows
Dear The Nose Knows: It's not trivial in the least. According to the National Institute on Aging, while a declining sense of smell can be a normal part of getting older, it can also be a sign of Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Encourage your mom to talk to her doctor about this issue so she can rule out serious medical causes. Also pay attention to her overall mood and behavior. Disregard for personal hygiene can be a symptom of depression. Good on you for looking out for your mom: I can tell your concern is from the heart, not the nose.
Dear Annie: I disagree with "Jan," who was concerned about other drivers not acknowledging when she defers the right of way to them. Many drivers feel that the safe and courteous driving habit is to follow right of way according to traffic codes and not attempt to communicate with other drivers. I have observed at least one collision caused by a driver insistently waving another driver, who did not have right of way, into a busy intersection. A following driver was caught off guard and a collision ensued. I have also observed drivers attempting to wave other drivers into a hazardous situation, such as a left turn across two lanes of traffic. Drivers are responsible for safety at all times, and Jan should not interfere with other drivers' decision-making. — Ronald S.
Dear Ronald S.: You make a fair point that it can be dangerous for drivers to attempt to communicate with other drivers. Though I still don't think a small thank-you wave is reckless.
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