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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Becomes a Shut in to Shut Out Her Neighbor

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our mid-40s and reside in a mobile home community. Most of our neighbors are seniors, and we live a quiet life. I have fibromyalgia, which limits my activities.

Our 73-year-old next-door neighbor, "Pearl," is driving me nuts. She's constantly finding things for me to do for her.

I used to help Pearl when she asked, or take her to the store -- but no more. She's a loudmouth who has embarrassed me in public. I used to take her to doctor appointments -- no more. She's addicted to prescription drugs and has stolen from me. Three doctors in six months dropped her. I've learned not to mention medications I'm taking or she'll hit me up for some.

Pearl talks horribly about our neighbors. She also lies. But the icing on the cake came when she bad-mouthed my own mother to my face.

Abby, my life is no longer my own. I can't go outside without Pearl hollering at me to come over. I used to have a special place in my garden where I could sit peacefully and write in my journal, but I haven't been out there in weeks because of her.

I've spoken to Pearl's daughter, but she says to "just ignore her." I'm at my wit's end. What should I do? -- TAMMY IN OHIO

DEAR TAMMY: Talk to her daughter again. Pearl's problems are so numerous they cannot be ignored. She needs a medical and psychological evaluation. Assure the daughter that she is not alone with this problem -- there are programs in place for seniors that can be accessed by contacting one's local office on aging. Please don't wait.