DEAR READERS: Today's column continues the discussion regarding the letter from "Perturbed in N. Carolina," who felt that her grandmother was being taken advantage of by her aunt and uncle because she is paying between $600 and $700 rent a month, plus a percentage of household improvements.
"Perturbed" said her parents would like Grandma to live with them rent-free, but were afraid to cause a rift in the family. I told her I didn't think this was something she should be involved in, and that her father should talk to his mother and extend the offer. But the decision should be his mother's to make, and sometimes mothers feel closer to their daughters than to their sons.
Many readers felt I should have responded differently. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your answer was off the mark. I'm the business manager of a skilled nursing facility. I see firsthand the damage caused by greedy relatives who suck dry the assets of their parents or grandparents, then leave them to be cared for at taxpayers' expense.
If Grandma contributed the money for the daughter's home improvements because she wanted to, that's her right. However, if the payments were required by her daughter as a condition of her residency, it is quite another issue and constitutes exploitation, if not elder abuse.
If the granddaughter or her dad cannot or will not intervene directly, the local office of Adult Protective Services can be contacted to make an assessment of the situation. If elder abuse is determined to be an issue, legal remedies can be instituted to recover any money gained fraudulently, and other living arrangements can be made. -- SUSAN W., LIVINGSTON, MONT.
DEAR ABBY: Same thing happened to my mother! When she could no longer live on her own, my oldest sister had her move in over the objections of my sisters and brother. Our mom needed special care that she did not get -– and after three years of bleeding Mom dry of both money and possessions, my sister moved her into a nursing home. She didn't even leave enough for funeral expenses when the time comes.
Sometimes parents will agree to whatever it takes to stay someplace that's familiar. I say that grandmother should be moved before they fleece the poor thing out of everything she owns. I wish we'd done it for our mother. -- SAD IN MINNESOTA
DEAR ABBY: The aunt's constant requests for money may intimidate her mother. Grandma may not be aware that her son would be happy to take her in, and may worry that she'll be thrown out or placed in a nursing home if she refuses.
The next time they visit, "Perturbed" or her father should have a quiet, confidential talk with Grandma to ensure that she's truly happy with the situation, making it clear that they are bad-mouthing no one, but if she does wish to make a change, they would be happy to support her. Alternatively, they might suggest that Grandma might like a change of scene for a while and could stay with them for a few months to see what happens. -- CONCERNED IN THE U.K.
DEAR ABBY: Because of my health I moved from California to live with my daughter and son-in-law two years ago. I pay $250 a month room and board. I, too, have my own room and bath. I also help out by cooking dinner every night, doing laundry and light housework, and driving my teenage grandchildren to and from school.
I pay my own way when we go out, plus my own bills and expenses. I wish I could pay more, but when I say so, they tell me what I contribute is worth far more than money. I think that grandmother is being taken! -- HAPPY IN NEVADA
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