Dear Abby: Overworked and stressed, my wife takes on another obligation — caring for elderly neighbor

DEAR ABBY: My wife, “Connie,” is an angel. She takes care of her aging father as well as my sister, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. This, in addition to her religious practices, consumes most of her time, energy and emotional resources. She often arrives home in the late afternoon or early evening stressed and completely exhausted.

An elderly and physically challenged neighbor has occasionally relied on Connie for help with little tasks. However, the woman recently suffered an event that requires her to have a great deal more help, and Connie feels “roped into” providing it.

I think that in light of Connie’s prior family commitments, she shouldn’t feel obligated to provide the extra help this neighbor now needs. I worry that these extra responsibilities will be detrimental to her health, and I have told her so. She acknowledges my position, but feels obligated toward this neighbor.

What can I tell my wife to make her realize that for her own sake, as well as the sake of the family for whom she provides care, she needs to determine her limits and priorities and resist yielding to additional cries for help? — AT THE LIMIT IN OREGON

DEAR AT THE LIMIT: You are married to a rescuer. She continually puts the needs of others before her own welfare. You are not wrong to be concerned. At some point, Connie may very well burn out. All you can do as her husband is be supportive, remind her about the importance of taking care of herself (she won’t be able to help anyone if she breaks down), and step in if it starts to affect her own health.

Rather than take on all of the day-to-day care for this neighbor, might it be easier for Connie to coordinate outside help to do it? It is a question worth asking.

DEAR ABBY: After attending a water aerobics class for three months, I have had it with the talkers in the pool. I’m not the only one annoyed that a handful of ladies disrespect the instructors and the rest of the class. They have been asked to quiet down by instructors and the other participants. There is even a sign on the door asking for limited talking.

These elderly ladies are oblivious to how loud and disturbing they are. Some have hearing loss and the acoustics in an indoor pool are terrible, so their voices just get louder and louder. I kid you not, two of them talk the entire hour, which makes it difficult for the rest of us to hear the instructor or the music very well.

They are kidding themselves if they think they are working out — they just bob up and down and talk. Once in a while, they ask “What are we doing now?” because they are not paying attention. When these ladies start talking to each other, those nearby get distracted and can’t work out, either.

Am I wrong to think that when a class starts, the talking should stop so everyone can participate in the class? — SPLASHING MAD IN NORTH IDAHO

DEAR SPLASHING: You are not wrong. The INSTRUCTOR should tell these ladies they are being disruptive to the class and to confine their chatter to the changing room — or, if they cannot comply, to leave the area.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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 $8 (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.)

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