I can’t escape my hyper-critical mother

My mother has always been a strong presence in my life. Growing up, I couldn’t do anything right.

Dear Annie: My mother has always been a strong presence in my life. Growing up, I couldn’t do anything right.

She took things away from me and redid them, or stood over me and directed.

Three years ago, my husband suggested we move my parents in with us because their neighbourhood had become drug and gang infested and we feared for their safety.

Dad has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which have greatly slowed his movements.

But he is still able to feed, bathe and dress himself.

However, living with my mom is a nightmare.

She pokes her head into our bedroom many times a day and stands over me in the kitchen, often getting between me and whatever I’m doing. I have tried talking to her about it, but it doesn’t help.

We recently bought a house in another city. I would love to get my parents set up in their own place now, but Mom has repeatedly said she can’t take care of my father by herself.

I feel so trapped and guilty. What do I do? — Wilting in the South

Dear Wilting: There are ways to help your mother care for Dad without sacrificing your happiness and independence.

Look into assisted-living facilities close enough for you to visit often.

Check out home health care options, including the Visiting Nurse Association (vnaa.org) Mom may not like it, but you have to take care of your own mental health.

Dear Annie: I would be grateful if you pass along to your readers some helpful hints when leaving a voice mail message, especially on a cell phone.

I’m a realtor and receive several such messages every day.

Many people leave long, rambling messages and then say their phone number so quickly I can’t get it the first time.

I then have to go back and listen to the whole message again.

Because a lot of the cell phone calls are transferred through my office, there is no original call log number to check and make this easier.

Please tell your readers when leaving a voice mail message to keep it short, say your phone number slowly and then repeat the number.

It would be greatly appreciated by those of us who rely on our cellphones for a living. — Realtor in Orange Park, Fla.

Dear Realtor: This goes for any voice mail, whether cell phone or landline answering machine.

Sometimes the connection is scratchy, and no matter how many times you play back the message, the number is barely audible. Repeating it slowly would help.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar are longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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