Dear Annie: My mother-in-law has been living with us for 16 years. She hasn’t said one word to my wife in six months. She hasn’t spoken to me for well over 10 years. There is no cooperation from her whatsoever.
Meanwhile, our living situation has deteriorated and Mom refuses any of our efforts to have her live elsewhere. Our attorney says the only way to remove her is by eviction.
The rest of the family says it’s our problem since we agreed to care for her to begin with. We have been in counseling for 14 years and know we need to get away from this woman. We just don’t know how. Please help before this ends badly. — Can’t Take It
Dear Can’t Take It: Your mother-in-law sounds mentally unstable and could benefit from an evaluation from a physician. Whether she’s healthy or not, we agree it’s time for her to live elsewhere (perhaps an assisted-living residence), and if you can’t find a way to do that, please contact the Eldercare Locator (eldercare.gov) at 1-800-677-1116 and ask what help is available.
Dear Annie: We retired and moved to Hawaii six months ago. Before we left the mainland, we extended invitations to friends to come and visit.
We have had three sets of guests visit since we moved, and to our dismay, we have had to purchase all the groceries and prepare all the meals, use our car and gasoline to show them around, and when we’ve gone out to dinner during their visits, we were expected to pay for our own meals. The average visit costs us over $300. One of the guests decided to make a return visit and bring a friend. She purchased the second plane ticket without consulting us. When I told her we needed to keep our costs down and she’d have to rent a car and help with groceries, she became upset. She said since she paid to fly out here, we should cover all expenses. She forfeited her plane ticket and, needless to say, we are no longer in contact.
Are we expecting too much to have guests cover part of the costs? Should they pay for restaurant meals? How do we handle future guests without insulting them or feeling taken advantage of? — Feeling the Pinch in Hawaii
Dear Hawaii: If you specifically invite people to stay in your home, you have an obligation to provide accommodations and most meals. As your guests, they can expect you to show them around, although you don’t have to be at their beck and call. And they absolutely should treat you to at least one restaurant meal or buy a meal’s worth of groceries. You should therefore invite guests only when you are able to be hospitable. When guests invite themselves, however (and bring friends, no less), it’s perfectly fine to say, “Sorry, this is an inconvenient time” or, if they insist on coming anyway, to inform them that they are entirely on their own. Give them a bus schedule and tell them to have a good time.
Dear Annie: I was upset by the letter from “Worried Niece,” whose aunt is taking Xanax with alcohol.
While your information on Xanax was accurate, you did not fix her incorrect information that Xanax is an antidepressant. It is not. It is an anti-anxiety medication. I’m concerned that people will now think antidepressant medication will have the same affect on them as Xanax. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are two different kinds of medicines that work on the body in two entirely different ways. Antidepressants are not habit-forming and they don’t have the side effects mentioned in the column. It’s difficult enough to get people to receive proper treatment for depression without them being misinformed. — Southbury, Conn.
Dear Southbury: You are right and we should have corrected that in our response. Thanks for the comeuppance.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger 5.1.08