Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: I live in a condo build­ing that was pre­vi­ously in­hab­ited by many el­derly peo­ple who have since ei­ther passed on, moved to re­tire­ment homes or are in nurs­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

My neigh­bor has lived here longer than I have and makes a daily habit of vis­it­ing the for­mer res­i­dents. This in­cludes go­ing to nurs­ing and de­men­tia care fa­cil­i­ties.

This strikes me as odd. I’m in my 60s and, frankly, I don’t know of any­one who vis­its the el­derly and in­firm like this. She some­times com­ments on their fam­ily sit­u­a­tions.

Al­though I do not have any solid ev­i­dence of mis­treat­ment of these peo­ple or fi­nagling to get their funds, I have a creepy feel­ing about it.

My ques­tion is, if I ever see ev­i­dence that points to some wrong­do­ing, who do I con­tact? I don’t per­son­ally know these peo­ple or their fam­i­lies. — Feel­ing the Creepi­ness

Dear Feel­ing: In my world, this sort of be­hav­ior is called, “friend­ship.” And friend­ships — or neigh­bor­li­ness — doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily stop when peo­ple move away.

It does not strike me as odd to visit el­derly or in­firm peo­ple. It strikes me only as kind, and it is some­thing that some peo­ple do not only be­cause they are kind, but be­cause they gen­uinely like be­ing with older peo­ple.

How­ever, it is im­por­tant to fol­low your own in­stincts. If you sin­cerely be­lieve this feel­ing is jus­ti­fied (and cer­tainly if you en­counter any ac­tual ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing), you should def­i­nitely act on it.

Do an internet search for “adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices” in your area, and share your con­cerns with a case worker. In­for­ma­tion on el­der abuse (and re­fer­ral to re­port­ing re­sources) is also avail­able from the Na­tional El­der­care Lo­ca­tor, a public ser­vice of the U.S. Ad­min­is­tra­tion on Ag­ing. Call toll-free (800) 677-1116.

Dear Amy: Sev­eral years ago, my hus­band’s wealthy cousin needed some re­cu­per­a­tion and care af­ter a ma­jor surgery. We in­vited him to stay at our ranch home (no stairs). He spent a lot of time on our deck; we served him meals and pro­vided him with nurs­ing care.

This year he was be­tween the sale of his old home and pur­chase of a new one, and he needed a place to stay for six weeks. Again, we pro­vided him with all meals, his own room and bath­room.

Af­ter about two weeks we de­cided to grab a bite at a lo­cal eatery af­ter work. We asked if he wanted to come with us, and he agreed.

Af­ter a nice meal (com­plete with wine), the bill came. He stuck his hands in his pock­ets, not even of­fer­ing to pay for his own din­ner or the tip. How can we stand to be near him at fam­ily func­tions, know­ing how he took ad­van­tage of our hos­pi­tal­ity? — Out of An­swers

Dear Out of An­swers: Peo­ple can re­ally only take ad­van­tage of you if you let them. In this case, your gen­eros­ity to this cousin dur­ing his ill­ness was met with an­other re­quest and fur­ther gen­eros­ity.

You could call him out on his be­hav­ior, while tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your own. You and your hus­band should find a way to ex­press: “Dear cousin, we have twice given you shel­ter, food and com­fort care when you needed it. We were happy to do it. But you’ve never re­cip­ro­cated or ex­pressed grat­i­tude for our gen­eros­ity. We’re giv­ing you a heads-up that the next time you need as­sis­tance, you’re go­ing to have to find it else­where.” That awk­ward feel­ing at fam­ily gath­er­ings — should be his.

Dear Amy: I could not be­lieve your id­i­otic reaction to “There’s No Place Like (the Beach) Home,” re­gard­ing the sis­ter who had bought the fam­ily’s va­ca­tion house and wanted to charge her adult sib­lings rent for their sum­mer stay. Do you have any idea of how ex­pen­sive it is to own a va­ca­tion house? Why should these sib­lings ex­pect to freeload? — Dis­gusted

Dear Dis­gusted: The sis­ter al­ready owns and main­tains the house as a sec­ond home. It is no more ex­pen­sive to have guests there than not, cer­tainly when these guests are fam­ily mem­bers who are bring­ing food and do­ing main­te­nance work around the place dur­ing their short stay. How­ever, the sis­ter owns the house and is com­pletely within her rights to charge rent, and her fam­ily can ei­ther take it or leave it, which was the essence of my ad­vice.

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