Husband volunteers wife to care for his ailing parents

Published 8:23 am Thursday, October 12, 2023

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 38 years. It has been a happy marriage for the most part; we rarely disagree or argue. The problem is, his parents are both very sick. His mom has Alzheimer’s, and his father was just diagnosed with stage-4 cancer — he’ll probably die within six months.
My husband wants us to sell our home and move in with his parents. He says that way we can take care of them both with the caregivers who are there most of the day. He works full time and says the burden will mostly fall on me. Should I agree to this?
We are empty nesters, so this will affect no one but my husband and me. I’m leaning toward yes. But my husband has two sisters and a brother, and I’ll be doing something these others won’t do for their parents. I have already taken care of my parents as well as a sick brother and buried them all. I have no family left. Please, give me some advice. – DONE THIS BEFORE IN TEXAS

DEAR DONE THIS: A LOT more discussion needs to take place before you agree to this or not. As you stated, your husband has siblings. How much responsibility are they willing to take financially, if not with hands-on caregiving?
Your father-in-law could live longer than six months, becoming increasingly dependent upon physical care. When he’s gone, your mother-in-law’s mental health will diminish, and she will become increasingly helpless until her demise. People have been known to suffer with Alzheimer’s for many years. If you sell your home and move in with the in-laws, you may have some money, but you will have no freedom – and, if this proves to be too much for you, you may feel trapped.
Having done this for your parents and brother, you know what you will be facing. Do not allow yourself to be railroaded or guilted into shouldering this responsibility. If you have a trusted friend or adviser – a doctor, lawyer or clergyperson – run this scenario by them. Do NOTHING until you have thought this through.
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DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I sometimes invite over for dinner. Invariably, when I offer him seconds, he’ll say “no thanks, but I’ll take it home.” The same thing happens if I offer him a beer or soda – “No thanks, but I’ll take it home.” It doesn’t feel right to me and I’m not sure how to express that I’m offering this NOW, not as a doggie bag. Or should I stop offering him seconds? He doesn’t have money issues, so he doesn’t need to do this. Do you think I’m overreacting? – BAFFLED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR BAFFLED: Yes, I do. That he wants to take the food you prepare home to enjoy the next day (I presume – unless he intends it to be a midnight snack) is a compliment. However, since it bothers you, tell him that if he isn’t going to eat it with you, your offer is rescinded.
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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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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