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by Abigail Van Buren

Dirty Old Dad Is Being Taken to the Cleaners

DEAR ABBY: Dad has been a widower for five years. Shortly after my mother passed away, he began dating women (girls, really) about 45 years younger than he is. He has spent more than $20,000 on these girls -- who quit calling after they get his money.

His house has been robbed three times, and it's a constant hassle to cancel his credit cards, call the banks, etc., in the middle of the night after he discovers that someone has been in his house while he slept.

All precautions have been taken, locks changed, a motion-activated alarm installed in the hallway, but he's the one to blame.

He knew the latest girl who robbed him for only three weeks. He invited her into the house. She led him to believe she was going to stay the night with him, got undressed, and then told him she needed to tell the person who gave her a ride that she was staying. She pretended she couldn't find her shirt, and when my father got out of bed to help her look for it, she grabbed his wallet and ran out of the house -- topless. Her shirt was discovered later.

Abby, how can I stop Dad from making such stupid mistakes? I've tried explaining what these women really were interested in, but it happens over and over. Please help. -- WORRIED ABOUT DAD IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR WORRIED: You didn't mention how old your father is or what his mental capacity was before your mother's death, but it's possible that his ability to care for himself has diminished to the point where intervention is necessary.

Schedule an appointment with a doctor who specializes in geriatric medicine and discuss mental and neurological evaluations for your father. Since it appears that he has lost the ability to protect himself from being taken advantage of, also consider consulting an attorney with expertise in elder law about options for protecting your father.

DEAR ABBY: My older sister (age 18 1/2) was treated to a lavish wedding and reception courtesy of our parents. As a favor to my mother, her cousin -- a caterer -- catered the wedding for free.

While my father was on his way home to change my infant brother's diapers (during the wedding madness, no one brought any), my sister and her new husband packed up all the finger sandwiches and most of the remaining food at the reception and left to spend their honeymoon in their new apartment.

When my father returned to the reception, he was outraged to discover that the food was gone, and embarrassed by my sister's behavior in front of her guests who were trying to enjoy themselves without any food.

Dad drove to my sister's apartment and demanded the food and an apology.

My sister says it was "her" wedding and, therefore, "her" food. She won't forgive my father for disturbing her on her honeymoon. My father is sore at my sister for being so thoughtless, thankless, greedy and selfish as to take the food in the first place. Who is right? -- HUNGRY IN PHOENIX

DEAR HUNGRY: Your father. To pack up the food from the reception before the wedding guests had finished eating was a major breach of good manners. If the newlyweds felt they needed fortification for their honeymoon marathon, they could have phoned a restaurant and had something delivered. Your sister owes her father and her guests an apology.

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