Ag­ing mom has health is­sues but wants to stay in her home

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PROFILES - 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 P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069 or visit

DEAR ABBY: My fa­ther died four years ago, leav­ing my 69-year-old mother alone. My mother has health and mo­bil­ity is­sues. Her house is large and has two sto­ries, and it far ex­ceeds her needs. The prob­lem is that she’s ex­tremely sen­ti­men­tal about it.

I worry about her be­ing alone be­cause my sis­ter and I live two hours away in op­po­site di­rec­tions, and Mother is ei­ther un­will­ing or un­able to ad­dress the is­sue of mov­ing closer to me or my sis­ter. Money is not an is­sue.

I talked with my sis­ter, and we agree that Mom should move closer to whomever she wants. Be­cause of her age, I feel guilty that one of us isn’t close by to be there for her. Abby, how does one lov­ingly and gen­tly nudge a par­ent to move closer for her own well-be­ing?

— Wor­ried in In­di­ana DEAR WOR­RIED:

You are good and car­ing sib­lings, but you can­not live your mother’s life for her. There may be more to her re­luc­tance to leave her home than sen­ti­men­tal­ity. If she has lived there for decades, she wouldn’t just be giv­ing up her house, but also her friends and ac­quain­tances, the places she shops, etc. Aside from you or your sis­ter, she would be like a stranger in a strange land.

Be­cause money is not an is­sue, a care­giver could be hired to pro­vide as­sis­tance and com­pan­ion­ship for your mother if her health and mo­bil­ity reach the point that she can no longer live alone. And if her needs be­come pro­gres­sively greater, you or your sis­ter should re­search as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties near you and talk to her about mov­ing into one.

DEAR ABBY: I thought I was a pretty good par­ent, but I am stumped when it comes to my 13-year-old daugh­ter. The lat­est point of con­tention is that she has got­ten into the habit of telling her fa­ther and me to “shut up.” She does it when we are play­ing with each other.

In spite of the fact that I have cor­rected her and told her it is dis­re­spect­ful and un­ac­cept­able, she in­sists there is noth­ing wrong with it. She says that it’s just a hang-up that I have and other par­ents wouldn’t care.

I don’t care if other par­ents would al­low it or not. She has earned con­se­quences for it, and yet turns right around and im­plies that my scold­ing her ba­si­cally earned my be­ing told to shut up. I can’t be­lieve her lack of logic when ar­gu­ing her point. She’s re­ally baf­fled as to why it is an in­ap­pro­pri­ate thing to say, and I’m baf­fled at her ob­sti­nance.

— Baf­fled in Texas DEAR BAF­FLED: Ex­plain to your daugh­ter that there are some things teens can say to each other that are in­ap­pro­pri­ate when said to their par­ents. (“Shut up!” can be used to ex­press amaze­ment or sur­prise at hear­ing some­thing with­out be­ing meant as dis­re­spect­ful.) That said, if this ex­pres­sion your daugh­ter uses of­fends you, she should have enough re­spect for you that she re­frains from us­ing it at home.

ABI­GAIL VAN BUREN

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