DEAR ABBY: My mother is 80 and still lives by herself. She has had three strokes in the last two years, and her memory is very bad. She is also very stubborn and belligerent. She really belongs in an assisted-living facility; however, she refuses to go to one. She says she’ll kill herself first.

I manage Mama’s finances. I also make her doctor’s appointments, transport her there, take her to the pharmacy, the grocery store, etc. I do all Mama’s driving because she can’t leave the block she lives on without getting lost.

Mother depends on me for everything, and she hates my husband of 18 years, who treats us both like gold. She would never admit it, but she hates him because he’s physically disabled and it keeps me from giving her all my time and attention.

Mama tries to make me feel guilty by acting like she’s completely helpless. There are a lot of things she could do for herself, but she refuses. I’m always stressed out over her, on top of the load I’m carrying with my husband and daughter. Have you any suggestions? – STRESSED TO THE MAX IN TULSA

DEAR STRESSED: You are a conscientious, dutiful daughter. However, people can spread themselves only so thin without it beginning to affect their health.

If your mother’s reasoning had not been already affected by strokes and dementia, she would realize that fact. The time has come to call her doctor and discuss what alternatives might be available in caring for her. Assisted living would be ideal, but only if she could adjust to it. If it would be too traumatic, perhaps a part-time caregiver could be hired through senior services in your community.



DEAR ABBY: I was in a serious car accident back in 1986 and have been living with the facial scars ever since. I hate the way I look and would like to see if a doctor can improve my appearance. The problem is, my husband doesn’t want me to talk to a doctor.

Yes, I had the scars when I met my husband 15 years ago. I have lived with the deformities for a very long time. But not a day goes by that I don’t think about how I could look if I had surgery to improve my appearance.

I don’t know if my insurance would cover the costs of surgery, but when it comes to my husband “needing” a boat, Jeep or snowmobile – or whatever suits his fancy at the time – money is never a problem.

I have money from the car accident, and if there were any costs for the surgery, it wouldn’t have to come out of my husband’s paycheck. I cannot express to you how bad I feel about myself, but my husband does know. Do you think I should see a doctor to find out if surgery is an option for me, or should I just accept the way I am and not think about improving my appearance? – SCARRED AND CONFUSED IN PHILADELPHIA

DEAR SCARRED: By all means consult a plastic surgeon. You deserve to be the best that you can be. However, when you do, please understand that it could change the dynamics of your relationship with your husband. It appears that he has a vested interest in keeping you just as you are, and the reason may be that he is afraid he will lose you if you look different. Some sessions with a marriage counselor might put his fears to rest. Much depends upon his own level of self-esteem.



Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)


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