Dear Annie: My 95-year-old father, "Fred," lives on his own, far away from his three children. Until now, Dad has been in good health, even still driving. My siblings and I have been trying to convince Dad to move near one of us so we can care for him, but he refuses.
Dad has a girlfriend, "Gina," whom he met right after Mom died seven years ago. Gina is 20 years younger than Dad. At first, it was companionship that kept them together, but recently, Gina is more of a caregiver. Dad is increasingly dependent on this woman and seems unable to make a decision without consulting her first. (They do not live together.)
We see Dad's health deteriorating, both mentally and physically, and don't think he is getting the basic care he needs. How do we get him to give up Gina and come live with one of us? Are we doing the right thing to even ask it of him? We just worry we aren't doing our best for our father. What do you think? - Confused Daughter
Dear Confused: We think you are caring children who want what's best for your father, but it can be traumatizing and frightening to move to a new city, especially at the age of 95. Dad has been with Gina for seven years and is undoubtedly quite attached to her. She is trying to care for him, but this is a big job.
Making these decisions and knowing when Dad is no longer capable of doing so on his own may require professional assistance. We suggest you pay an in-person visit to Dad as soon as possible and assess the situation. Does he need a housekeeper? A full-time caregiver? If he cannot afford in-home services, could you move him to a continuing care facility near Gina? Are there day-care facilities nearby? Would Dad visit you for an extended stay, perhaps becoming familiar with your neighborhood and less resistant to relocating? Contact the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 or a private geriatric care manager (caremanager.org) to help you figure out the best plan for Dad.
Dear Annie: My twin girls were born 10 weeks premature. They are now 7 months old, so we are getting out more. I understand that people want to coo at babies, and my girls always respond with beautiful smiles. However, touching a baby's hands can transmit illnesses, as babies frequently put their hands in their mouths. This has happened in church, groceries and doctors' offices.
I don't want to be rude and ask well-meaning strangers not to touch my daughters, but I also do not want them to get sick. A minor illness to an adult could be life-threatening to a preemie. Please tell your readers that we are happy to stop and chat, but touching any baby should be avoided. - Proud Mom in Lincoln, Ill.
Dear Mom: It is not rude to protect your children, and it can be done politely. Simply say with a smile, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't touch the twins. They are prone to illness. Thanks so much for understanding." You also can keep a hand sanitizer nearby.
Dear Annie: My former husband and I did not have sex. I was trim, fit and attractive. He lost interest despite my efforts to involve him, including counseling. I finally decided life was too short, and we divorced. My second husband and I had a wonderful sex life until he died. I am now on the "post" side of menopause, and I still want sex.
To the women who avoid sex with their husbands, do them a favor and let them go. You want a roommate, and he wants a life partner. - Still Like Sex
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.