Annie's Mailbox: How can I rescue my elderly father?

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Dear Annie: My father is 78 years old and has been a widower since Mom died four years ago. Last June, an old acquaintance resurfaced and swept Dad off his feet.

“Lisette” once served jail time on drug charges, yet Dad is acting like a teenager in love and gave her control of all his financial and medical decisions. She alienated him from his family and friends. She convinced him to sell his house, and in a year’s time, $75,000 disappeared along with our parents’ life savings.

To make matters worse, Dad recently had a stroke and was diagnosed with dementia and cancer. Lisette does not want to care for him, but has convinced him that his children will not care for him, either.

She refuses to allow hospice to come into the home. She is verbally abusive and won’t allow him to keep any personal possessions (keys, wallet, phone, etc). When he’s in the hospital, she never visits. We are afraid Dad will die alone.

We love our father dearly. Any of the four of us would willingly take him and arrange for hospice to help him be comfortable and maintain his dignity.

We don’t even know if Dad is getting the proper pain medication. Lisette has taken him to different doctors to get prescriptions that we aren’t sure she is giving him. We think she may be selling the pills. Please help.

— Heartsick Daughter

Dear Daughter: Call Adult Protective Services in your area, or the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116, to report that you believe your father is being neglected and/or abused. You also can contact the National Center on Elder Abuse (ncea.aoa.gov) to find out whether your state has a hotline and other resources.

If Lisette is not taking proper care of your father, you need to wrest control away from her.

Dear Annie: I have a friend who is a habitual braggart. It doesn’t bother me, but whenever she is with my other friends, they complain about it and tell me they don’t want to be around if she is invited. Every conversation must be about her, all the great things she does and the wonderful stuff she has.

In truth, she really doesn’t have much to brag about. Is there a polite way to let her know her behavior is a problem for others?

— California

Dear California: Most bragging is the result of insecurity. Your friend feels inadequate, so she tries to build herself up, not realizing how others perceive it. You can try reassuring her of her worth, but sometimes these things require professional help.

If you think she would be receptive, have a quiet talk with her and explain that people respond better when you seem more focused on them instead of yourself.

Dear Annie: After reading the letter from “Getting Anxious,” I had to write. I, too, suffered from hyperhidrosis until I was 32. I remember reading to my son’s kindergarten class about a rainstorm, and one little boy thought it was really cool that the book was “raining” on my hands.

I also used different medications, prescription antiperspirants and homeopathic treatments, with no luck.

My dermatologist told me about a procedure called endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. She referred me to a vascular surgeon, who operated the following week, and my insurance covered the cost. I was back at work the next day with minimal pain.

My skin is sometimes too dry, but it was worth the trade. No more puddles under my paperwork. No more passing my babies off to friends, saying, “Oh, his diaper leaked.”

No more pretending to be rude so I won’t have to shake hands.

This surgery changed my life. I’m more confident and successful. Please encourage her to do it.

— Not Sweating It in Kentucky

Dear Kentucky: Surgery is a highly personal choice, and there are always risks. But the testimonials we have received from readers indicate that they are glad they had it done. Thanks for sharing.

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