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Annie’s Mailbox: Dad’s crankiness cause for worry

Marcy Sugar and Kathy Mitchell Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My father is in his late 70s and lives next door to my husband and me. Dad is a capable adult and maintains his household. I love him and am happy that he can take care of himself.

Lately, however, I have noticed that Dad is becoming short-tempered and frustrated when he does not get the response he wants or doesn’t understand what is being said. If he perceives the slightest impatience in your voice, he aggressively accuses you of disrespect.

It is not uncommon to have to tell him something three or four times during the same conversation. Even more problematic is when you tell him something he doesn’t want to hear. He will just continue to ask you over and over, as if your response will change. When you point out that you’ve had this discussion already, he claims he didn’t hear you. He also has become less willing to figure things out for himself. If someone is around, he will ask a series of questions even for the most basic of tasks.

I am worried that this may be a medical issue. Any ideas? – Need Patience

Dear Patience: You are right to be worried. Your father may have enough hearing loss to make conversations difficult or even incomprehensible. He may be having some cognitive problems that frighten him, causing him to overreact. His inability to temper his frustration could also be a medical issue. Ask your father if you can accompany him to his doctor for a checkup, and you will then be able to discuss these issues with the physician.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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