Ask Amy: Elderly inaction causes stress in the family

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law died about five years ago. My in-laws have been married for 45 years.

My mother-in-law is 80 and forced to live in her own house.

He expected us to help out at his house. Any time something breaks, needs fixing or needs to be done, he expects us to fix the issue.

We both work full-time jobs and change shifts every six months.

We have our own home, four acres of property to maintain, three horses and three dogs to take care of. It’s not that we don’t want to help. We just don’t have time!

We asked him several times to move in with us, but he refused.

He is not independent.

She has not yet learned to drive, so she has to rely on various friends or neighbors to take her shopping and/or to doctors appointments.

Soon, we will be leaving the state, and he will be coming with us.

For the past five years, I’ve been telling him that he needs to start cleaning his house. It’s been months since we moved and he hasn’t done anything.

We are busy trying to prepare for this move ourselves and between work, property maintenance, pets, shopping, laundry and packing our house, we don’t have time to spare to pack either of his things.

I told my husband that he just needs to stay until he clears his place and then we can come back and get him.

I’m a loser!

Frustrated in Texas

Dear Frustrated: Your life is very stressful.

It’s a shame that taking care of your dogs and horses prevents you from taking care of an old person, but surely your heavy burdens can give you some insight into what it might be like. packing and moving for an 80-year-old woman, whose abilities have always been inferior to yours.

Your mother-in-law has five years to start this process, but it is not happening. And yes, this inaction may be his fault, but it still doesn’t happen.

Your ultimatum should sound reasonable as it comes off your lips, but it may ultimately be less stressful for you if you set up and oversee the sorting and sorting process. pack for your mother-in-law. If not, you must realize that you are setting him and you up for a more stressful situation in the future, because you will end up doing it from a distance.

There are people who are good at this very heavy work and will help organize the properties and keep, dispose and sell in return for the fee earned from the sale of some of the things from the house.

It can be easier for everyone if a professional from outside the family helps with this very difficult task. You can contact your local Office on Aging for recommendations, or search for senior transition services in your area.

Dear Amy: My husband and I are in our 70s.

We and most of our friends are pretty forgetful.

However, we have a friend who will ask the same question multiple times in a conversation.

For example, the friend will ask about the health of a mutual friend, and after two minutes may ask the same question again.

This is just one example of many during the conversation.

My question is this: Should we smile and repeat our answer, or should we tell our friend that we are worried because they seem to be becoming forgetful.

Is there another solution?


Dear E: If your friend has a partner or family member nearby, you should get in touch and report your concern. Someone who is close to your friend should accompany them for an examination and assessment.

At this moment, you should deal with repeated questions by gathering your patience and answering the question again. Nudging the person by stating, You asked that; don’t you remember may cause further confusion.

Dear Amy: Concerned Grandma has a son who had a son in high school. Thanks for suggesting that this young dad needs to pursue legal custody, rather than the informal arrangement they currently have.

Some states will offer free clinics for parents to navigate this process. The young father should also take a parenting class, which will show his commitment.

And yes she should use birth control!


Dear Appreciative: I admire the whole family’s commitment to this baby.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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