Dear Abby: Leaky relative soaks my chairs, carpet

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DEAR ABBY: One of my relatives has become incontinent. She leaks badly. Most of the time her pants are wet. When she comes to visit, she doesn’t hesitate to sit on my furniture, and when she stands up, she causes a spot on my carpet!

I’m worried my house will start to smell. After she leaves I have to go around spraying and mopping.

I’m sure she wears adult diapers because after she leaves we find them in our trash. They are soaked, so I think she probably needs to change more often.

How do I ask her nicely not to sit on my furniture? I would love to suggest having her get medical help, but am afraid she would be insulted and I don’t know how to address it. I love her, but not her messes! — GRITTING MY TEETH

DEAR GRITTING: According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of seniors are plagued by incontinence. It happens to both sexes, but bladder incontinence happens more often to women. Many seniors find it so embarrassing that they are afraid to discuss it with their doctors.

Because your relative’s incontinence is causing you a problem, you must discuss it with her. Say you love her, and encourage her to talk to her doctor by explaining that this is a common problem.

A solution might be to buy a plastic slipcover for her favorite chair or have her sit in one that will cause you less of a problem.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a single father of three, the youngest of whom finally left the nest last year. I have spent my adult life raising my sons, who are definitely the truest blessing any man could ever hope to have.

To my dismay, now that I am living alone and see my sons only on weekends, I feel lost. I had all these plans for just such a time, but now I find I have little motivation to do anything.

It feels almost as if I have lost my purpose, as though my job is over and I can’t find the me I was before I was a father. Please give me some advice. — BARELY BREATHING

DEAR BARELY BREATHING: You appear to be experiencing classic empty nest syndrome. It happens to many parents when their last child leaves home.

A way to cope with the emptiness and aimlessness you are feeling would be to talk about it with other family members, or the parents of other young adults who have moved out on their own. It’s important that you fill your time with activities you enjoy, and socialize with others so you don’t just sit around and brood.

However, because your feelings of sadness and aimlessness have persisted, I recommend you also discuss them with your doctor to make sure you are not suffering from depression. If it is depression, your doctor can help you.

DEAR ABBY: Can you please help resolve a question once and for all between my husband and me regarding the proper way to eat grapes?

My husband will pick individual grapes from a bunch which, in my opinion, leaves the rest looking “moth-eaten” and unappetizing. I prefer to cut a small branch off the bunch, which leaves the grapes looking fresh instead of grazed upon. Who’s right? — CARRIE IN MILFORD, MICH.

DEAR CARRIE: You are. But if this is the worst conflict you have in your marriage, consider yourself lucky.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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