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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Last month, your column carried a letter about people receiving advertisements for weight-loss products with supposedly "personal" Post-It notes attached, advising the recipient to "Try it, it works!" The notes are never signed with more than an initial. I immediately wrote to thank you for running that letter because I received one of those ads two years ago, and it was hurtful.

Would you believe yet another one of those ads arrived in the mail yesterday? This time it is for a product that will purportedly ignite a man's sexual performance, but the Post-It was omitted. Written in ballpoint pen in the margin was the same little message, signed with the initial "R." Am I supposed to know who "R" is?

What makes this latest mailing laughable is that I am an 86-year-old single woman who has been without a mate for almost 12 years. What do I need this for?

The advertisement featured a picture of a man who is supposed to be a doctor, and a California postmark -- but, of course, no return address. So much for this "amazing formula ... a magical combination of the world's most potent and scientifically documented male sexual restorers."

Dare I hope that you can give this topic more publicity so these ridiculous ads will stop? -- CONCERNED IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR CONCERNED: Thank you for sending me the ad. The text reminded me of a bodice-ripper novel. What a hoot!

Things that seem too good to be true often are too good to be true. Therefore, I don't recommend "miracle" products. I don't know whether this one will work or not; however, the one thing that product is sure to "inflate" is the manufacturer's bank balance.

DEAR ABBY: My wife of 57 years, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, is gone now. I was her caretaker until the day before she passed away. Sometimes she would do things that made me angry and I would raise my voice to her. I knew she was not responsible for her actions.

How I wish that instead of raising my voice, I had given her a big hug and told her, "It's all right." I will regret to my dying day that I didn't show her more love and compassion.

Abby, had I known then how I would feel now, I would have hugged her from the time she woke up until she went to sleep. I would like to tell all those who have a partner or a loved one who is incapacitated to love them and adore them even if they don't appear to respond to your love. Please don't wait until it's too late. -- BROKENHEARTED HUSBAND

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Caring for a loved one who cannot give back is bound to try anyone's patience. You are only human with limited emotional resources, and that you occasionally raised your voice is not unforgivable. Please forgive yourself. I'm sure your love overshadowed your lapses. You showed her your love by caring for her steadfastly and apparently lovingly.

Today, it is understood that full-time caregiving can stress people to the breaking point, and caregivers are encouraged to take a break now and then to replenish their souls. Caregivers can be more effective if they can get away for a rest. Services to caregivers are available; the Alzheimer's Association is an excellent resource.

Perhaps others who are now in the situation you were in could benefit from your experience. You might consider volunteering with your local Alzheimer's group.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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