Dear Annie: My mother has always been a strong presence in my life.
Growing up, I couldn't do anything right. She took things away from me and redid them, or stood over me and directed.
Three years ago, my husband suggested we move my parents in with us because their neighborhood had become drug and gang infested and we feared for their safety.
Dad has Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which have greatly slowed his movements, but he is still able to feed, bathe and dress himself. However, living with my mom is a nightmare. She pokes her head into our bedroom many times a day and stands over me in the kitchen, often getting between me and whatever I'm doing.
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I have tried talking to her about it, but it doesn't help. We recently bought a house in another city. I would love to get my parents set up in their own place now, but Mom has repeatedly said she can't take care of my father by herself. I feel so trapped and guilty. What do I do? -- Wilting in the South
Dear Wilting: There are ways to help your mother care for Dad without sacrificing your happiness and independence.
Look into assisted-living facilities close enough for you to visit often. Check out home health care options, including the Visiting Nurse Association (vnaa.org). Call the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 and ask for help.
Mom may not like it, but you have to take care of your mental health.
Dear Annie: I would be grateful if you pass along to your readers some helpful hints when leaving a voicemail message, especially on a cellphone.
I'm a Realtor and receive several such messages every day. Many people leave long, rambling messages and then say their phone number so quickly I can't get it the first time. I then have to go back and listen to the whole message again.
Please tell your readers when leaving a voicemail to keep it short, say your phone number slowly and then repeat the number. It would be greatly appreciated by those of us who rely on our cellphones for a living. -- Realtor in Orange Park, Florida
Dear Realtor: This goes for any voicemail, whether cellphone or landline answering machine. Sometimes the connection is scratchy. Repeating the number slowly would help. Please, readers, keep this in mind. It could explain why some of your phone messages haven't been returned.
Dear Annie: Thank you for the support you've shown in regard to organ, tissue and eye donation.
The laws about organ donation vary from state to state, but in many states, a person's documented donation wish now takes priority over the family's preference. It works similarly to a legal will -- if your wish to become an organ and tissue donor is legally documented, your family cannot change it.
However, it is still important to share your wishes with your family so they are not surprised. Their cooperation and support make the process go much more smoothly.
To find out how to sign up as an organ and tissue donor in your state, please visit Donate Life America (www.donatelife.net).
Readers in Canada should contact their local organ recovery organization to learn how to sign up in their province.
On behalf of the more than 100,000 Americans awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant, thank you. -- Jennifer Tislerics, Gift of Life Michigan
Dear Jennifer Tislerics: We appreciate the clarification. Any readers interested in making a lifesaving donation should check your website.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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