Caregiver at wits’ end

By From page C4 | October 07, 2011

Dear Annie: My wife, “Elizabeth,” is wheelchair bound with multiple sclerosis and needs constant care, which I have been doing alone for years.

Our family members become irritated when we don’t attend birthdays, weddings or other family gatherings. They show no concern for the massive effort on my part to get my beautiful wife up and around. It’s always about them. When I had bypass surgery, only my mother and one niece and her husband visited while I was in the hospital. It’s a me, me, me world for them.

These relatives think all gatherings should be at my house with me doing all the work. They sit at the table watching me prepare, cook and serve the meal while simultaneously attending to my wife’s needs. I have explained that I will no longer wait on them.

Neither side of the family has offered any assistance or relief, and it aggravates the bejeevers out of me that they think I’m some kind of spoilsport. They say I am “anti-family.” As my wife’s disease progresses, this is only going to get worse.

I have attempted to talk to the relatives, but their needs always supersede mine. Do you have any suggestions?

— Maine Husband

Dear Maine: Your devotion to your wife is lovely, but your relatives apparently aren’t willing to put forth the energy to deal with your endless day-to-day needs. You cannot count on them to come through for you, so please do whatever is necessary to cope. Contact the National Family Caregivers Association (nfcacares.org) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org) for support.

And if you choose to host a family gathering, do not hesitate to delegate chores in advance. Have siblings bring specific food items. Assign clean-up duties to the nieces and nephews. Tell them you enjoy seeing the family, but gatherings at your home necessitate that everyone pitch in.


Dear Annie: My problem is a so-called friend who believes she’s an expert on everything. She sucks the oxygen out of every conversation and has alienated her family and most of her friends. Talking to her is downright painful. She has said to me, “Janet ended our phone conversation so abruptly it was almost as if she hung up on me.” She is clueless. She also refers to me as her “best friend,” which I am not. I have best friends and know the difference. Those special relationships are filled with give and take and have been nurtured for decades. I have known Ms. Know-it-All for two years and am more tolerant than most, but I think I’m done. I am not a mean person, and not returning her phone calls seems cruel. How do I end this relationship?

— California

Dear California: This is one of those situations where you have nothing to lose by being honest, and it might do some good. Tell Ms. Know-it-All that her need to impress everyone by claiming expertise in every subject gives the impression that she is insecure and makes conversation exhausting. Be polite and apologetic for hurting her feelings, and explain that you thought she should know so she can work on it.


Dear Annie: “Suffering Soon-To-Be Ex” made the mistake of joking that he wished he’d grabbed his wife’s sister. Now his wife won’t forgive him. I can relate to his wife.

My husband and I sat with a large group of friends one evening, and my husband made the comment that he had more fun when I wasn’t there. It ruined the weekend not only for me, but for our friends, as well. I will remember that comment and carry the hurt for a very long time.

— My Sympathies to the Woman


Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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