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Advice | Ask Amy: How Do Siblings Fairly Split the Cost of Caring for Their Mother?


Dear Amy: I’ve got three brothers and sisters. I am the oldest – 10 years older than my next sibling. My wife and I are now in our mid-70s. We are retired and living on Social Security, her modest teacher’s pension, and a six-figure piggy bank.

Two of my siblings have large incomes and significant real estate. Another brother and his wife have professional jobs. All the grandchildren in the family are now adults and on their own.

The controversy concerns my 100-year-old mother, who lives in the east near my siblings in an expensive care facility. We live in a different part of the country. My siblings insist that we share the costs equally.

We offered to take care of my mother in our home for free, but they declined the offer. I believe that contributions should be based on individual circumstances and capacity. The disagreement has caused a rift between us. Is there a solution here?

Dear Stuck: Moving your 100-year-old mother to another part of the country to live in your home doesn’t seem like a viable option for anyone, least of all her. If she’s happy and doing well where she is, then she should stay there.

I agree with you that siblings should contribute to the care of the elderly, depending on their circumstances and capacity. When your siblings chose to move your mother into this expensive home, you should have made it clear from the outset that this was priceless to you.

Given your older age and more modest net worth, you need to be careful about your own spending, and your younger siblings may not fully understand how retirement brings an extreme drop in income for many people, along with the possibility of increased spending .

This is a “you don’t get blood from a stone” situation, but you must offer to be of service to your mother to share the burden with your siblings. At the very least, you could offer to come to the area to be with your mother during times when your siblings need to be away.

Dear Amy: I’ve known “Stacy” for 10 years. Not too long ago, Stacy had to move to another city because she was catfishing several people and it turned into a huge mess. Lately she has been behaving in ways that are out of character.

I’ve noticed that every time she and I go somewhere together, a man comes along that is NOT her husband.

She and I have identical cell phone covers on our phones, and recently when she and I were together I accidentally picked up her phone and saw a very explicit message from this other man on her phone.

I put it down and walked away. I think she’s catfishing people again.

What should I do? Should I say something to her or keep this to myself?

– Very confused in Missouri

Dear Very Confused: You mention that your friend “Stacy” is behaving in a way that is out of character, but your description of her current behavior seems to be in keeping with her character.

To clarify, “catfishing” is the practice of someone posing as someone else online to “fish” — and catch — unsuspecting people who are usually looking for a romantic relationship.

The catfish is actually a predator that victimizes people, sometimes swindling money from them and almost always creating a completely false romance with them. This is both emotional and financial theft.

Catfishing can become an addiction for perpetrators, who, in addition to financial gain, can also get a kick out of the power of these entanglements.

Stacy always shows up with a man who isn’t her husband. You saw an explicit text message on her phone that you find disturbing. She has a history as a catfish. Yes, you should ask her what she’s up to. Prepare for her answer.

Dear Amy: I like the answers people use to answer intrusive questions, when those answers end the conversation.

I have an adult son whom I can no longer love. He is my only child and I often get asked why I didn’t have more children. It wasn’t my choice, and I don’t like to talk about it with people I barely know, so I tell them, “Because I got it right the first time.”

That stops all further questions.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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