Suspicion of dementia creates anxiety

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Dear Amy: I am worried about my husband, "Norman." We have been married for 30 years, and I have always enjoyed his company, despite having to adjust to his anxiety disorder.

He is smart, funny and supportive, and we enjoy doing things together.

He's 10 years older than me and has been retired for quite a while. I am a freelancer with an active career.

Over the last four years he has been exhibiting signs of incipient dementia, and his hearing is deteriorating. I've begged him to discuss this with his doctor, but he will not do it.

He becomes defensive, angry and brushes it off. I've tried to find ways to accommodate both his hearing loss and his memory lapses, but I am worried about both conditions.

I've seen these symptoms evolve in both his mother and my mother, and those symptoms are unfolding with him at precisely the same age when they struck our parents.

For his benefit and for mine, I'd like to begin addressing his conditions, but I can't do it without his cooperation. What should I do?

— Worried

Dear Worried: Your husband may not have Alzheimer's disease, but you can research some of the warning signs for Alzheimer's and dementia on the Alzheimer's Association's helpful website: alz.org. You can also talk with a counselor on the association's 24-hour help line: 800-272-3900.

You should contact your husband's physician to share your concerns and ask that he be tested. Doctors understand this complicated personal issue — they also know that earlier detection leads to early treatment with a potentially better outcome. This is a frightening issue for your husband; receiving an accurate assessment with his doctor's involvement could ease the burden for him.

Dear Amy: I am in my early 60s and have a friend, "Mary," who I have been good friends with since college.

I do my best to keep up our friendship, and I believe she values our friendship, as well. However, here is the problem: She is extremely wrapped up in politics and we are not on the same side of the divide.

When we speak on the phone or are together — without fail — she starts bashing those in the political party I favor. I have never retaliated or in any way disparaged her politics.

Perhaps because I have let it go on for so long, she thinks I accept this behavior, but I find it increasingly difficult to stomach. How can I tactfully put an end to this?

— Red and Blue Don't Make Purple

Dear Red: It sounds as if you have been sitting quietly murmuring "hmm" while your friend goes on a bash-fest. One answer to this would be to engage with your friend in a spirited conversation or debate so your own political stance is more obvious to her.

If you aren't willing to take her on, you will simply have to ask her to try to change. When you secretly seethe over someone else's behavior without giving the other person the benefit of your honesty, you aren't being fair.

Just tell her, "I know I've never said this to you before, but I really don't like it when you bash the other political party. I know you're really into this and interested in the issues. But when you start bashing, I stop listening because I find it offensive. I should have let you know earlier, because it really does bother me."

Dear Amy: Your advice to "Unappreciated" that she email the company owner and copy HR regarding an ignored evaluation form might have a more negative than positive result.

Having been on both sides of the desk in this email-heavy world, I've found communications in person are more appreciated. A pleasant "by the way" approach with this owner, under the guise of saying hello or reporting on a project might be less pushy and do far more relationship-building. Emails have no tone of voice, a mistake I've personally made.

Never call the owner on the carpet and copy someone else while doing it.

— X-HR/Current Team Builder

Dear Team Builder: Fantastic feedback. Thank you!

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