DEAR ABBY: How can I convince my aging, sick sister-in-law that her feeble husband's care is too much for her at this point? She can barely care for herself, yet she must help him eat, get out of chairs -- everything short of chew his food for him. I have tried telling her she deserves respite care of some kind, to no avail.
Have you any ideas how I can convince her she is literally killing herself and deserves some assistance? Their three daughters are no help at all to them. They turn a blind eye from their parents' situation. -- RELATIVE WHO CARES IN OHIO
DEAR RELATIVE: I can think of a few things you might do to help. The first would be to talk to the daughters and explain your concerns for their mother's health -- because if she doesn't get some respite care, she could die before their father does. Be sure to point out that if that happens, their father's care would become their responsibility. When they realize the effect it would have on their own lives, it might motivate them to do something.
The second would be to do some research and see what options are available for part-time caregivers or senior day care centers where her husband would be safe and looked after while your sister-in-law has a few precious hours to herself. The man's doctor could guide you.
Then have a frank talk with her and explain that for her to be as effective a caregiver as she obviously wants to be, she's going to have to take better care of herself because the track she's on right now could cost her her own health or even her life, and that's no exaggeration.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 29-year-old single man who is hard of hearing. I have a steady job and plans for a good future, but I'm having trouble in the dating world.
I would love to have a special someone in my life, but I'm shy. I have a hard time talking with the girls who live in my area. I can hear people pretty well unless they mumble or talk quietly, or face away from me when they speak.
I have asked people to repeat what they say (I try not to do it often) if I missed something. They get frustrated and so do I, and then they say, "Never mind!"
I try so hard to hear people. But it seems the harder I try, the less it seems worth it to find a relationship. Any tips on dealing with impatient and non-understanding people? -- FRUSTRATED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR FRUSTRATED: As people age, many of them encounter the problem you are trying to cope with now at your young age. Hearing loss is difficult because it is often subtle and can be extremely isolating for the person who has it.
My first tip would be to avoid noisy places for meeting women, if you can. My second would be to be upfront about your hearing loss right off the bat. If a woman finds you attractive, she will find ways to accommodate the problem. And if she doesn't, then she wasn't the right candidate for a relationship in the first place.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)