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Stop patronizing the elderly

Dear Abby: While shopping recently, I witnessed a cashier speak to an older woman in a condescending manner. She called her "Sweetie" and talked to her as if she were a 3-year-old. The woman was obviously offended, but said nothing.

I experienced this kind of behavior often when my mother was alive. Receptionists, waitresses, store clerks and others would direct their questions to me and talk to me while my mother stood there, perfectly capable of answering the questions herself. I'm sure these people did not intend to be rude or disrespectful. However, it was extremely annoying to both Mother and me.

Because a person is elderly does not mean he or she is senile. Regardless of their mental capacity, older people have earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

-- Offended in Kingsport, Tenn.

Dear Offended: I'm glad you wrote. I have seen it happen, too, and with people who should have known better. And when it did happen, the offender was sometimes called on it in a way that wasn't at all "sweet."

Readers, if this letter strikes a familiar chord, please remember that most senior citizens are completely in control of their faculties and treat them accordingly. (Or risk losing a customer.)

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Fess up about feelings

Dear Abby: I am seeing a therapist for my depression. The problem is I find myself wanting to have sexual relations with him. I'm 23, and he's older than my father, who is 63! What's wrong with me? Obviously, I can't have an affair with my therapist, and I desperately do not want to change doctors. Please help.

-- Lovesick Patient in Montana

Dear Lovesick: What's going on with you is very common. There is a name for it: transference. While this may be embarrassing to you, I assure you your therapist has heard it before. It's not necessary that you change doctors, but it is important that you be honest about your feelings. (Nobody ever said therapy was for the faint of heart!)

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